What is the most likely outcome for my first DWI in Texas? How about my second DWI? Third?

In Texas, driving with too much alcohol or drugs in your system is referred to as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). DWIs apply only to adults (anyone 17 and older can receive DWI penalties).  Only persons under 21 years of age can be convicted of the separate offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI).  If you've been convicted of a DWI offense, your penalty can vary depending on your particular circumstances.  You are guilty of a DWI if you are operating a motor vehicle with a Blood or Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08%, or while on a drug that impairs your ability to drive.  Even if your BAC is below 0.08%, you can still be arrested for drunk driving in Texas if alcohol is impairing your ability to drive at even a lesser concentration.  To determine whether your driving is impaired, a police officer can require you to perform a set of field sobriety tests.  If you fail the tests and have alcohol or drugs in your system, you can be convicted of a DWI even if your BAC is below 0.08%. Although most people think of cars and trucks when thinking about DWI offenses, there are also similar penalties for boating while intoxicated (BWI), flying while intoxicated (FWI), or operating an amusement ride while intoxicated.  The more prior DWI convictions (or intoxicated convictions) you have, the more severe your penalties.

First, there are penalties that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) places on you.  Under Texas's Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Program, licenses are automatically suspended when a person is arrested for a DWI offense.  When you are arrested for a DWI, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver's license and issue you a temporary 40-day permit along with serving you a Notice of Suspension.  If you do not request a hearing from the TxDOT within 15 days, your license will be suspended when the permit expires at the end of 40 days.  It will then cost $125 in order to reinstate your license when you're eligible to do so.

If you request an ALR hearing, it can be done in person or via teleconference.  All in-person hearings are conducted at a location designated by the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).  The hearing will take place in the county that the DWI arrest occurred in if that county has over 300,000 people.  Otherwise, the hearing will take place within 75 miles of the county seat.  Although you are not required to have a lawyer for the ALR hearing, a Texas DWI defense attorney or DUI lawyer can be extremely helpful in fighting against a suspension.

The period that your license will be suspended depends on your offense. If there is an official finding that you refused to be tested for drugs or alcohol, your license will be automatically suspended for 6 months, so don't think that refusing to be tested will prevent you from a DWI or DUI conviction. Evidence that you refused the test can be used against you to support a finding that you were guilty of a DWI offense.

Keep in mind that your ALR hearing is separate from criminal court proceedings.  The outcome in one arena is not necessarily indicative of how things will turn out in the other.  If you are a repeat offender, you may have to drive for a period of time with an interlock device once your license is reinstated.  An interlock device prevents you from driving a vehicle unless your BAC is within the legal limit. The device is installed at the expense of the DWI offender.

The criminal DWI consequences vary widely depending on the circumstances.  Keep in mind that you can be guilty of multiple DWI offenses stemming from a single arrest.  For instance, you can receive penalties both for driving with a minor and for having prior DWI offenses at the same time.  The table below outlines the penalties that you can expect to receive taking into account several common factors related to DWI offenses.  For most offenses, the penalties come in a range.  The less heinous your DWI violation (or the better your DWI lawyer), the more lenient the penalty tends to be.

DWI Penalty Table


DWI Offense

Fine
(max)

Incarceration

Charge

Driving Privileges

Suspension

Annual Fee*

Interlock Device

First

$2,000

3 days - 180 days

Misdemeanor

1 year max

$1,000 or $2,000

 

Second

$4,000

1 month - 1 year

Misdemeanor

2 years  max

$1,000, $1,500, or $2,000

1 year**

Second (if 1st  was DWI Manslaughter)

$10,000

2 years - 10 years

Felony

2 years max

$1,000, $1,500, or $2,000

1 year**

Third or More

$10,000

2 years - 10 years

Felony

2 years max

$1,000, $1,500, or $2,000

1 year**

W/ Passenger Under 15

$10,000

2 years

State Felony

6 month min.***

***

***

Serious Injury

$10,000

2 years - 10 years

Felony

***

***

***

Manslaughter

$10,000

2 years - 20 years

Felony

***

***

***

* Fee must be paid for three years in order to retain your driver's license.
** Only applies in cases where the subsequent offense took place within five years of the prior offense.
*** Maximum is dependent on whether it is the first, second, third, or subsequent DWI offense.

 

For more information on Texas DWI, check out the following articles:

What are zero tolerance laws? Does New York have such a law?

How does a prior DUI record in another state affect a DWI or DWAI in New York?

How does a drunk driving conviction, or DWI, in New York affect my driving and criminal record?

Do I have to take a DWI breath, blood, or urine test in New York?

How can I challenge a DWI in New York?

Will my insurance rates go up as a result of a DWI on my record in New York?

I was recently arrested for a DWI in New York. I was on medication at the time. Will this help defend against a DWI or DWAI conviction?

I have a couple of DUIs or DWIs in another state. Is my license suspended in New York?

How can a DWAI or DWI lawyer in New York help me?