The consequences of drinking and driving for first time DWI offenders in Texas

Jenifer Knighton

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The severity of DWI charges can be increased for a number of reasons. These additions result in harsher punishments, including lengthier prison sentences, fines in the thousands of dollars, and the loss of fundamental constitutional rights.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI)- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs endangers your life as well as the lives of others and can land you in jail. Although you are legally intoxicated in Texas when your blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.08%, you are breaking the law as soon as drugs or alcohol impair your driving abilities.

Article 42.12, Section 13(h), Code of Criminal Procedure requires a person convicted of first-offense DWI and receiving probation to attend and successfully complete an educational program certified by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Failure to complete the program within 180 days (unless an extension is granted) from the date probation was granted will result in the offender’s license being revoked. The license cannot be reinstated until the educational program is completed. The DWI Education DWI-E standardized program is 12 hours required to be completed over 3-4 consecutive days. Sign up here for court-ordered classes.

Possible consequences for DWI first offense

  • Up to a $2,000 fine.
  • Up to 180 days in jail upon conviction with three mandatory days.
  • Loss of driver's license for up to a year.

With a BAC of 0.15 or more, driving under the influence is a Class A Misdemeanor. The maximum fine is $6,000 and the maximum prison term is one year. Permanent suspension of a driver's license follows a conviction for this felony.

Depending on the BAC, DWI with an Open Container is a Class A or B misdemeanor, with the same sentence categories outlined above. Due to the Open Container enhancement, a person guilty of this violation risks a minimum of 6 days in prison.

A conviction for DWI with a child passenger is a felony. The maximum fine is $10,000, and the maximum term of incarceration in a State Jail Facility is 24 months. A conviction for this violation is permanent and results in the suspension of your driver's license as well as other significant collateral repercussions connected with being a felon.

Can a Texas DWI be reduced?

Yes. The severity of a DWI charge might be lowered. The state may "waive" the enhancement and continue with a Class B Misdemeanor DWI charge.

Prior to September 1, 2019, Texans charged with DWI were ineligible for Deferred Adjudication. As a workaround, many prosecutor's offices would, under certain conditions, permit offenders to plead guilty to a separate charge, such as Obstruction of a Highway or Reckless Driving. This would allow a court to grant a defendant's Deferred Adjudication motion and avoid a final conviction.

First-time DWI offenders in Texas are now entitled to petition for Deferred Adjudication following the adoption of House Bill 3582. This has substantially stopped the practice of enabling defendants to enter guilty pleas to offenses such as Obstruction of a Highway or Reckless Driving.

What happens in texas for a first-time DWI?

After being arrested for DWI, offenders go in front of a judge who determines the amount of the bail and any other conditions of release. Additional bail requirements for DWI cases frequently include drug testing, ignition interlock, or SCRAM devices.

How much is bail for a Texas DWI?

Bond amounts for DWI offenders depend on several factors. Defendants can post a Cash Bond or a Surety Bond through a bail bond business or an attorney. In addition, eligible defendants can apply for a Personal Recognizance (PR) bond.

Is prison time required for a first-time DWI conviction in Texas?

No. First-time DWI offenders are not subject to jail time unless their sentence has been increased.

Can you go to jail in Texas for a first-time DWI?

Yes. Every day, people are sentenced to jail in Texas courtrooms for DWI. The possibility of receiving a prison term for DWI depends on the case's specifics and the defendant's criminal history, driving record, and defense strategy.

Don't wait to be charged with a DWI. You can take a DWI-education course and learn about the basics of drinking and driving and making responsible choices.

Learn more about DWI Education by texting 832-954-5957 or filling out the contact form online.

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Jenifer Knighton is a community activist and journalist focused on social justice and change. Her mission is to build stronger communities through Hope, Empowerment, Advocacy and Outreach, Resources, and Support.

Houston, TX
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