Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense with significant consequences, and the state of Texas takes a particularly stern stance on this issue. If you find yourself facing a DWI charge in the Lone Star State, it’s crucial to understand the potential ramifications and the legal process that follows.

The Legal Limit: In Texas, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08%. Exceeding this limit while operating a vehicle can lead to a DWI charge. However, it’s essential to note that individuals under the age of 21 can be charged with a DWI even if their BAC is below 0.08%.

Arrest and Booking

If you’re pulled over and the officer suspects you of driving under the influence, you may be subjected to field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer. Failing these tests or refusing to take them can result in your arrest. Afterward, you’ll likely be taken to the police station for booking, where your personal information will be recorded, and you may be asked to provide a blood or breath sample for testing.

Immediate Consequences: Facing a DWI charge in Texas has immediate consequences, including license suspension. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) can automatically suspend your driver’s license, even before your case goes to court. To contest the suspension, you must request a hearing within 15 days of your arrest.

Criminal Penalties:

The penalties for a DWI conviction in Texas are severe. For a first-time offense, you may face fines, probation, mandatory attendance at alcohol education programs, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Subsequent offenses carry even harsher penalties, including longer license suspensions, increased fines, and potential jail time.

Ignition Interlock Devices:

One common consequence of a DWI conviction in Texas is the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). This device requires the driver to blow into it before starting the vehicle, and it measures the BAC. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start. IIDs are often mandated, especially for repeat offenders, as a measure to prevent further instances of drunk driving.

Long-Term Impact:

Aside from the immediate legal consequences, a DWI conviction in Texas can have long-term effects on various aspects of your life. Employment opportunities, insurance rates, and personal relationships may all be affected. Additionally, having a criminal record can hinder your ability to secure housing or loans.

Get Informed

If you or someone you know has a DWI in Texas, it’s important to understand what’s going to happen. Staying informed and knowing what possible outcomes can prepare you before stepping inside a courtroom. It’s best to educate yourself and know any form of outcome with the severity of your DWI.

First Offense

If you are facing criminal penalties for the first time, then you need to know what follows.

Let’s say you have fines that are not in excess of $2,000, then you apply to regular DUI/DWI cases in Texas. But if a minor is present, fine maximums increase to not more than $10,000.

The State of Texas also employs surcharge program for DUI/DWI offenders.  A surcharge is an administrative fee charged to a driver based on the convictions reported to the driving record.  Surcharges are in addition to all other reinstatement fees required for other administrative actions and do not replace any administrative suspension, revocation, disqualification or cancellation action that results from these same convictions.   Texas’ surcharge program requires payment of $1,000 annually for three years for offenders as part of DWI surcharge program. If the BAC is higher than .16, then the surcharge increases to $2,000 annually for a period of three years. Your convictions remain on record and influence future DWI criminal cases for a period of ten years.

Second Offense

If you are guilty of a second DWI in a criminal court, they will suspend your driver’s license for an additional period ranging from 180 days to two years. The Texas Code does not outline a specific fine for the conviction. However, the presiding judge in each case can order the guilty party to pay any amount up to $4,000.

A judge must order community service for at least 80 hours. They may require the guilty party to serve as many as 200 hours. In these cases, they also require Incarceration. The guilty party faces a sentence of 72 hours to a year in jail.

Texas courts use a second DWI conviction as an indicator that a person may have a substance abuse problem. This commonly prompts judges to order an evaluation or rehabilitative treatment.

Felony Charges

If a minor, or someone of the age of 15 or under is present in the vehicle during your arrest, it is an immediate felony charge

Also, if you are a commercial driver and face a DWI while driving a commercial vehicle, such as a tractor trailer, is a felony. You can also face a license suspension, especially if the tractor-trailer has hazardous materials

Let’s say if injuries or an accident occurs, you may also face felony DUI charges, depending on the  circumstances surrounding the accident.

If you are convicted of any of these felony DWI charges, you will face serious jail time and the conviction will remain on your Texas driving record for life. There are also other penalties related to DWI in Texas, including a driver responsibility tax, which is a surcharge that you must pay for several years following your DWI conviction, on top of any fines or other financial sanctions imposed. This DWI tax ranges from $1000 to $2000 per year for a three-year period.

There are also fines that are applied to the Felony DWI case at the judge’s decision. These fines start at $1,000 and can range as high as $10,000 for third and subsequent conviction, or in extreme circumstances, such as having a blood alcohol content of twice the legal limit.

Who to Call When Facing a DWI in Texas

Sometimes, things just happen. Whether it is your first offense or not, you need someone to fight for you. If you’re facing DUI charges in the Fort Bend County area, you need immediate help from David Hunter. Call now at 281-265-1515 or schedule online for a free consultation. Don’t go through this alone. Get the help you need today!

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What Happens When You Have a DWI in Texas | The David Hunter Law Firm, Fort Bend TX