Texas DWI law – The charges and potential penalties

Driving while intoxicated is considered a serious offense in Texas, as such, those convicted could potentially face a range of severe penalties.

It is common for people in Texas, and elsewhere, to partake in the occasional libation. For those who are of legal drinking age, this is generally not an issue. When people drink and then get behind the wheel, however, the consequences can be great. Those who are convicted of driving while intoxicated, or DWI, in the state of Texas can face a number of potentially serious penalties.

State laws relating to intoxication

According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, state law defines intoxication as having an alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher. Additionally, those who, after consuming alcohol, do not have normal control of their physical and mental faculties may also be considered intoxicated. Generally, those who are caught driving in a public place while intoxicated face, at minimum, a Class B misdemeanor charge. However, his charge may be elevated under certain conditions or for a repeat offense.

First offense penalties

In general, the possible penalties for a first time DWI conviction are greater than those for other misdemeanor offenses. A first DWI offense could carry a jail sentence of between three and 180 days, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Those convicted could also be fined up to $2,000.

Additionally, people may lose their driving privileges. The license suspension term for a first DWI offense is generally up to one year. In order to keep their driver's licenses, people may also be required to pay a $1,000 or $2,000 annual fee for three years.

Second offense penalties

The legal consequences for a second DWI offense are typically escalated in relation to those of a first offense. In general, those convicted of DWI a second time may be sentenced to between one month and one year in jail. The fine for a second conviction, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, may be increased to as much as $4,000.

Being convicted of a second DWI offense may also carry a driver's license suspension. In these cases, however, the suspension could be for up to two years. Those convicted a second time may be required to pay a $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 fee annually for three years in order to retain their licenses.

Third offense penalties

The types of potential penalties for a third DWI offense are similar to those of second and first offenses. However, the severity of these penalties is generally heightened. For a third DWI conviction, people could be sentenced to anywhere from two to 10 years in prison. They must also typically pay a fine of $10,000.

In addition, those convicted of a third DWI offense may have their driver's licenses suspended for up to two years. They may also be required to pay the same annual license retention fee as second DWI offenses. Furthermore, people who are convicted of two or more DWI offenses within a five-year period must install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.

Working with an attorney

The repercussions of a DWI in the state of Texas can have long-term implications for those who are convicted. As such, people who have been charged with DWI may benefit from seeking legal counsel and representation. An attorney may explain their options, and help to defend them against the charges they are facing.

Keywords: DUI, drunk driving, arrest, penalties, charges