Maverick DWI attorney Mark Thiessen is here to answer all of your DWI questions in comprehensive a DWI FAQ. Mark, who has used his dedication and expertise over the years to garner over 100 “Not Guilty” verdicts (and thousands of case dismissals), has unique insight into the world of DWI law, and has enjoyed rarified success for his clients because of it. 

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DWI, you might want to read up on some of the most pressing questions we get from clients and readers alike, and call Thiessen Law Firm to discuss protecting your freedom.

What is the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas?

Let’s start with the second most common question in DWI law. What is the difference between DUI and DWI? The terms “driving under the influence” and “driving while intoxicated” sound like they mean the same thing. A lot of states use the terms differently, and the general public often uses the terms interchangeably — but the two are very distinct. 

The difference between DUI and DWI in Texas, is that DUIs are charged to minors who are found driving with any amount of alcohol in their system, whereas anyone over the legal limit can be charged with a DWI. DWIs are regarded as the more serious charge, although both carry severe penalties.

What do I say if I’m pulled over?

Every DWI case starts with getting stopped by the cops. Getting pulled over is an incredibly nerve wracking experience, and people often make the mistake of further incriminating themselves. Do not under any circumstances tell the police that you are leaving a party, or that you “had a couple, but it was way earlier”. It can be difficult to do so, but remaining silent — politely — is usually your best bet. 

We recommend exercising your fifth amendment right to remain silent, and not provide the police with information that might hurt you down the line. It won’t make you look any more guilty than you already do — in fact, the prosecution is not able to argue to the jury that your silence implies guilt. If you plead the fifth, it keeps you from further incriminating yourself. 

Is DWI a felony in Texas?

This is a big one. DWI in Texas can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstance. Penalties for felony DWI are significantly steeper than those for misdemeanor DWI in Texas. Felony DWI in Texas occurs under these circumstances:

  • DWI with a child in the car
  • DWI accidents causing injury (Intoxication Assault)
  • DWI accidents causing death (Intoxication Manslaughter)
  • Third DWI offenses
  • Fourth DWI offenses

If you or a loved one has been charged with Intoxication Assault, Intoxication Manslaughter, or other Felony DWI charges in Texas, you need representation. Felonies are exceedingly difficult to fight, and the prosecution is already building their case against you. Contact the intoxication assault lawyers at Thiessen Law firm today.

Continue reading: What is a Felony DWI in Texas

What are the Penalties for DWI in Texas?

Here is a breakdown of what kind of punishments you can expect by severity:

  • First DWI offenses with no aggravating factors, such as high blood alcohol content, can expect a class B misdemeanor. This carries a maximum fine of $2,000 and a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail.
  • Second DWI offenses with no aggravating factors can expect a class A misdemeanor. This carries a maximum fine of $4,000 and a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
  • DWI with a child passenger is a state jail felony that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and a jail sentence of 180 days – two years.
  • Third DWI, fourth DWI, and Intoxication Assault offenses are third degree felonies that carry a maximum fine of $10,000 and a jail sentence of two – ten years.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter is a second degree felony that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and a jail sentence of two – 20 years.

Can I still buy a gun after a DWI?

Maybe. It depends on the nature of your DWI charge. You can buy a firearm in Texas if your DWI charge was a misdemeanor — and even get a CHL (concealed handgun license), if you wait five years — but not if you have a felony on your record.

You can make all of the right decisions after being convicted for a felony, and will still end up with your rights being taken away as a felon. Buying a gun is just one of the many things you cannot do if you have a felony on your record in Texas, along with voting and holding public office. 

Continue reading: Can you Buy a Gun with a DWI?

Can I refuse a breathalyzer test?

If you’re pulled over and a police officer asks you to submit to a breathalyzer test, can you refuse it? You can, but you shouldn’t. You have probably heard or seen ‘Do Not Blow’, plastered on a billboard or disposable pen. This is bad advice for a handful of reasons.

If you refuse to take a breathalyzer, the police officer can request a warrant (and they will get it) requiring your submission to a blood test. Getting a blood test often means that you have broken implied consent laws by refusing to comply with the breath testing, and for what? A probable 180 day license suspension just for refusal, and a test that is much more accurate than a breathalyzer. 

Continue reading: What Happens if you Refuse a Breathalyzer in Texas?

How long is a DWI on my record?

A DWI conviction can never be expunged, but the charges and arrest can be erased if your case meets specific criteria:

  • Your case was dismissed
  • You were found not guilty
  • You were charged as a minor
  • Your case was deferred

If you are convicted of a DWI under any other circumstances it will be on your record forever. This is why it is imperative that you find representation that knows how to fight DWI charges, as not being convicted in the first place can be your only hope.

Continue reading: Can a DWI be Expunged in Texas?

When can I get my license back after a license suspension?

You have 15 days to save your license. After you get a DWI in Texas you need to request an ALR (Administrative License Revocation) hearing, which most DWI lawyers worth their salt will request for you. You must request this hearing within 15 days of your arrest or else face mandatory license suspension.

If you are a first time offender your license suspension will likely last 90 days, but repeat offenders are most likely looking at a two-year suspension. This one gets pretty complicated. We recommend that anyone facing license suspension keep reading on some of the finer points.

Continue reading: Texas DWI License Suspension

What is the difference between a revoked and suspended license?

Revocation is worse than suspension, plain and simple. A revoked license means Texas isn’t planning on returning it, and is making sure it will be more difficult to get another one. 

License revocation occurs when:

  • An injury or fatality occurs because of driving under the influence
  • A repeat offender gets another DWI without completing a repeat offender course
  • An offender fails to complete a DWI education course within 180 days of their conviction

Continue reading: Revoked vs Suspended

What happens on your 2nd and 3rd DWI?

DWI law is designed to make every subsequent DWI carry more serious consequences. Basically, every DWI makes your situation more difficult to navigate. 

The penalties for a 2nd DWI look similar to those for a first, but with higher fines, mandatory jail time, and ineligibility for case deferral or record sealing. 3rd DWIs are automatically felonies that carry 2 – 10 years in prison. They also come with a higher likelihood of landing secondary penalties (like community service or an ignition interlock device).

Continue reading: Average Sentence for a 2nd DWI in Texas, 3rd DWI in Texas

How much does a DWI cost?

The true cost of getting charged with a DWI is often not reflected in the civil fees (although they do range from $2,000 – $10,000), court costs, or legal fees. Nor the immense amount of hidden charges that can come in the form of:

  • Bonds
  • License suspension
  • Community service
  • Mandatory education programs
  • Jail time
  • SR-22 costs
  • Raised auto insurance

It can be hard to imagine the amount of time and resources that a DWI charge can take from your life, because the true cost often lies in the damage to your career, reputation, and future opportunities.

Continue reading: How Much Does a DWI Cost in Texas?

How do I beat a DWI charge? Hire a DWI expert to handle your case

The most important DWI FAQ that we get is “How do I beat a DWI charge?”, and the answer is simple. You need an excellent lawyer. DWI charges are too serious and too complex to leave in the hands of just anyone. 

Mark Thiessen is a DWI specialist who thrives taking complex cases to trial. His status as a Lawyer Scientist uniquely qualifies him to examine the biology and toxicology involved in a DWI case, and use it in your defense.

Call Thiessen Law Firm at 713-609-1484 or contact us online today for a free consultation.

Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.