DWI Penalties Over 90 Years of Combined Experience On Your Side

Penalties for DWI in Houston

Texas DWI Penalties by Crime Class

  • First DWI Offense
    • Offense Level: Class B Misdemeanor
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $2,000
    • Jail Range: 72 hours to 180 days
    • License Suspension: 90 to 365 days
  • First BWI
    • Offense Level: Class B Misdemeanor
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $2,000
    • Jail Range: 72 hours to 180 days
    • License Suspension: 90 to 365 days
  • DWI with Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or over .15
    • Offense Level: Class A Misdemeanor
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $4,000
    • Jail Range: 72 hours to 1 year in county jail
    • License Suspension: 90 to 365 days
  • BWI with Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or over .15
    • Offense Level: Class A Misdemeanor
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $4,000
    • Jail Range: 72 hours to 1 year in county jail
    • License Suspension: 90 to 365 days
  • First DWI with Open Container Enhancement
    • Offense Level: Class B Misdemeanor
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $2,000
    • Jail Range: 6 days to 180 days in county jail
    • License Suspension: 90 to 365 days
  • 2nd DWI Offense
    • Offense Level: Class A Misdemeanor
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $4,000
    • Jail Range: 30 to 365 days
    • License Suspension: 180 days to 2 years
  • 2nd BWI Offense
    • Offense Level: Class A Misdemeanor
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $4,000
    • Jail Range: 30 to 365 days
    • License Suspension: 180 days to 2 years
  • 3rd DWI Offense
    • Offense Level: 3rd Degree Felony
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 2 to 10 years in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
    • License Suspension: 180 days to 2 years
  • 3rd BWI Offense
    • Offense Level: 3rd Degree Felony
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 2 to 10 years in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
    • License Suspension: 180 days to 2 years
  • 3rd or more DWI with 1 prior state prison sentence
    • Offense Level: Punished as a 2nd Degree Felony
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 2 to 20 years in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
    • License Suspension: Up to 2 years
  • 3rd or more BWI with 1 prior state prison sentence
    • Offense Level: Punished as a 2nd Degree Felony
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 2 to 20 years in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
    • License Suspension: Up to 2 years
  • 3rd or more DWI with 2 prior state prison trips
    • Offense Level: Enhanced Felony Punishment
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 25 years to life in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
    • License Suspension: Up to 2 years
  • 3rd or more BWI with 2 prior state prison trips
    • Offense Level: Enhanced Felony Punishment
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 25 years to life in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
    • License Suspension: Up to 2 years
  • Intoxication Assault - DWI that results in serious bodily injury
    • Offense Level: 3rd Degree Felony
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 2 to 10 years to life in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
    • License Suspension: 180 days to 2 years
  • Intoxication Manslaughter - DWI that Causes Death
    • Offense Level: 2nd Degree Felony
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 2 to 10 years to life in Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
    • License Suspension: 180 days to 2 years
  • DWI with Child Passenger - Child Younger than 15 Years of Age
    • Offense Level: State Jail Felony
    • Maximum Fine: Up to $10,000
    • Jail Range: 6 months to 2 years in State Jail Facility
    • License Suspension: 90 days to 2 years

Understand the Consequences under Texas Law

Under Texas law, driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense that can have extremely serious legal consequences. Authorities are actively looking for people who violate the law, and many drivers are surprised to learn that they can be accused of DWI even after only one or two drinks. In some cases, drivers may be arrested for a DWI even if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the limit that the law defines as “intoxicated.”

Fortunately, there are often a number of ways an experienced Houston DWI defense lawyer can help reduce the consequences you may be facing if you are accused of drunk driving. In some cases, a highly skilled lawyer may even be able to have the case against you dismissed; the charges may be lessened to a lower class of crime; or they can push to have the case dropped by the state prosecution because of a lack of evidence, illegally obtained evidence, or improperly stored and maintained field sobriety tests.

DUI Penalties for Minors

For the purposes of DWI and other laws involving alcohol, Texas law defines anyone under the age of 21 as a “minor.” Minors are prohibited from driving a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their systems.

For a first offense, minors who are caught driving under the influence face:

  • Fines

These penalties increase significantly with each subsequent offense, and in many cases can include jail time. Fortunately, an experienced Houston DUI defense lawyer can often minimize these and other long-term consequences that minor DUI offenders may face.

DWI Penalties for Adults

The penalties in Texas associated with DWI have grown increasingly harsher over the past few decades. While specific penalties imposed after a DWI depend on a variety of factors, the most relevant are the number of previous offenses as well as your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of your arrest.

Below is some information on the penalties that may be imposed after being accused of driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.

First DWI Charge

After your first DWI offense in Texas, you may be fined up to $2,000 and spend between three and 180 days in jail. Additionally, your license may be suspended for up to two years and there may be an annual surcharge of as much as $2,000 to keep your license for three years. Finally, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car and attend a DWI intervention or education program.

Second DWI Offense

After a first offense, the penalties associated with a second DWI in Texas increase significantly. A second DWI offense could result in fines of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence of one month to one year. The license suspension associated with a second DWI charge can last up to two years, and there may be a three-year annual surcharge of up to $2,000. In addition, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle and attend a DWI intervention or education program.

Third DWI Charge

The fine associated with a third or subsequent offense in Texas can be up to $10,000. In addition, offenders may be sentenced to two to 10 years in state prison and have their license suspended for up to two years. There may also be a surcharge of up to $2,000 assessed per year for three years. Finally, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle and participate in a DWI intervention or education program.

DWI Crimes & Injury to Others

The Texas legislature has defined certain crimes involving DWI that involve injury or the risk of injury to others.

These include:

These offenses are prosecuted under different code sections than DWI law and expose offenders to much more serious consequences. Additionally, there are other “enhanced offenses” defined by the law, including injuring a firefighter, peace officer, or other emergency medical personnel, or causing a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state.

Penalties for Refusing Chemical Testing

Anyone who operates a motor vehicle in Texas is subject to the “implied consent” rule, which holds that by obtaining a driver’s license and operating a motor vehicle in Texas, you have consented to a chemical test if a law enforcement officer suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Because of this rule, you can lose your license if you refuse such testing. This suspension is completely separate from the criminal part of a DWI case and can result in a license suspension of 90 days to two years.

Drivers will not lose their license immediately after refusing a chemical test. After a refusal, you have 15 days to request an administrative hearing regarding your suspension. You should hire an attorney to request an ALR hearing, at which you can dispute your license suspension.

If you miss the 15-day window of opportunity to request this hearing, an automatic suspension begins 40 days after your refusal. The administrative hearings are handled by the State Office of Administrative Hearings and can be requested online.

Mandatory Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device

In some cases, a judge will require that an offender install an ignition interlock device. In addition, the offender’s driver’s license will have a restriction indicating that he or she may only operate a vehicle with such a device installed. The device must be an approved device and be installed by an approved service provider.

Insurance & Proof of Financial Responsibility – SR-22

People who are convicted of DWI in Texas are required to prove that they have car insurance by filing an SR-22 certificate. This is done through your insurance company and provides the state with proof that you have car insurance that complies with state minimum standards. You must have the SR-22 Certificate on file with the state for two years after your conviction. If it lapses, you will lose your license and the state will cancel your vehicle registration.

In addition to the cost of an SR-22, your car insurance rates will increase if they view you as high risk after a DWI conviction. As a result, a conviction may cause your insurance premiums to significantly increase.

Commercial Drivers & DWI

Commercial vehicle drivers who get behind the wheel put us all at risk. The individuals who drive commercial vehicles often are behind the wheel of cars or trucks that are designed for highly specialized purposes. As such, they are often much larger and less maneuverable than the passenger vehicles that most of us drive. These characteristics can make them capable of causing serious injury if they are involved in accidents. Furthermore, commercial drivers are often entrusted with the transportation of hazardous materials or even other people.

Because of the inherent risks associated with the operation of commercial vehicles, almost every aspect of the industry is regulated by the federal government, including the licensing of commercial drivers. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, a person who holds a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is subject to a .04 blood alcohol content (BAC) limit when he or she is operating a commercial vehicle. This is significantly lower than the .08 BAC limit to which non-commercial drivers are subject.

In addition, CDL holders who are determined to have operated any type of vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol are disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. If the driver operates a commercial vehicle that transports hazardous materials, he or she can be disqualified for three years.

Other types of offenses that may result in disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle include:

  • Chemical test refusal
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 or more
  • Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance

CDL license holder DWI charges and related offenses have the potential to result in significant fines, the loss of your CDL license, jail time, and in the case of commercial drivers, the inability to make a living and potentially the end of your career. As a result, it is extremely important that commercial drivers who are facing allegations of DWI discuss their options with an experienced DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.

To receive a free consultation about your case today, call Johnson, Johnson & Baer, P.C. at (713) 422-2270.

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