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DWI Penalties in Texas

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DWI) is a criminal offense in Texas. According to a 2021 BuyAutoInsurance.com survey, Texas ranks as the fourth worst state for drunken driving. From 2016 to 2018, the survey found 5,129 drunken driving deaths in Texas during that period – that’s 7.76 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Texas takes DWIs seriously, and it reserves some steep penalties for those who are convicted for a first offense. Should a subsequent conviction occur, or if there are unique circumstances (such as causing someone else injury or having a child in the car), the penalties for DWI are even greater.

What Are the Penalties for the First DWI?

Texas can punish DWI first-offenders rather severely. Whereas some states might offer more lenient possible punishments, those in Texas are some of the most serious.

If you are convicted of DWI for the first time in Texas, you may face penalties such as the following:

  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • Up to six months in jail (three days minimum)
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to a year

In addition to these potentially life-altering penalties, you can face a separate state fine of up to $6,000. This fine is assessed upon sentencing.

Penalties for Second DWI Convictions

No matter how old they may be, all previous DWI convictions can be used as a basis for enhancing new DWI charges.

This means that if you were 22 when you got your first DWI, a new charge 10, 20, 30, or more years later can count as your second DWI charge. If convicted, you can face the penalties of a second (or third, etc.) DWI, even if your criminal record has been spotless since the first.

The penalties for a second DWI conviction include the following:

  • Up to $4,000 in fines
  • Up to $6,000 in additional state fines
  • Up to one year in jail (mandatory one month)
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to two years

Penalties for Third & Subsequent DWI Convictions

While the first two DWI offenses are charged as misdemeanors, third and subsequent offenses are considered third-degree felonies. With convictions for these offenses come even more serious possible penalties.

Because your previous two DWI convictions will follow you throughout your life, it’s more important than ever to secure experienced legal counsel. A competent attorney may be able to help you reduce your charges, achieve a case dismissal or acquittal, or enter into a plea bargain that avoids the worst consequences of a third-degree felony conviction.

If you are convicted of a third DWI offense, you can face the following penalties:

  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Up to $6,000 in additional state fines
  • Two to 10 years in prison
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to two years

Charged with DWI? Seek Legal Counsel.

As you can see, the penalties for a DWI can be very disruptive to your life. You can lose your job while in jail (or because of your conviction), a significant chunk of your savings, and lose your ability to maintain your livelihood when you aren’t allowed to drive. You can also expect your auto insurance rates to go up, especially if you’re required to carry SR-22 insurance.

Because a DWI is a crime, any conviction means that you must now answer “yes” to any formal questions about whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime. This can make it harder to find work, secure housing, obtain credit, and it can even have consequences for child custody and other legal matters.

Much or even all of this, however, can be mitigated by securing the representation of an experienced attorney. With competent legal counsel guiding you through your case, you can secure a better outcome that you may not have thought was possible.

At Alband, Lane & Balderrama, that’s the kind of legal counsel we strive to provide for our clients. If you’re facing DWI charges, we can help you fight them and protect your chances of having a brighter future.

Learn more about how we can help during an initial consultation. Contact us online now to learn more.

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