Texas DWI Penalties

Classifications and Range of Punishment for DWI Conviction

At the Law Offices of Tim Powers, we understand the harsh penalties that individuals face after being convicted of a DWI in Texas. These consequences can be lifelong reminders of a mistake you made. Our goal is to help you avoid conviction, and the associated penalties. We work to the best of our abilities to guide you through the entire legal process, providing the representation you need to obtain favorable results.

DWI, 1st Offense: Class B Misdemeanor in Texas

Penalties include:

  • Fine – A fine not to exceed $2,000.
  • Jail – Confinement in the county jail for a term of no less the 72 hours or more than six (6) months. If there was an open container of alcohol in your car when arrested, the minimum term of confinement is six (6) days in the county jail.
  • Community service – Texas judges typically order no less than 24 hours or more than 200 hours.

Absent unusual facts, most persons convicted of a first offense DWI are granted community supervision (probation) of any confinement ordered. The general length of DWI probation is from 1-2 years. There are also conditions of community supervision ordered that are fairly standard in most courts. Typical conditions imposed are:

  • Drug / alcohol evaluation – A person convicted of DWI will be required to submit to evaluation for probability of committing DWI in the future and / or to disclose a potential problem with alcohol or drug abuse. If a problem is detected, additional terms and conditions of probation are ordered to be administered through the Community Supervision Department.
  • Attend and complete an approved DWI Education class within 180 days from the date of conviction (Satisfying this requirement will avoid the one (1) year driver's license suspension, unless if you were a minor (under 21 years of age) at the time of the offense).
  • Attend and complete a Victim Impact Panel. This is a forum that presents victims of drunk drivers to address persons convicted of DWI and warn of the dangers and perils of driving while intoxicated.
  • Work faithfully at suitable employment, commit no other crimes, remain at the same residence and employment unless notification is given to the community supervision officer, report monthly to the supervision office, and pay all fines and costs in a timely manner.
  • Pay a monthly supervisory fee. Perform a specified number of hours of community or volunteer service.

DWI, Second Offense: Class A Misdemeanor Special Condition for Jail Release on Bond

It is important to note that if arrested and accused of a DWI second or greater offense, Texas law now requires the court to order as a condition of release from jail on bond, that the person install and maintain a deep lung air device on the car that the person intends to drive and operate while charges are pending. The device requires a breath sample before it will allow you to start your car. They also require periodic breaths while driving to monitor and ensure sobriety. New technology has made these devices "user sensitive" so that someone else cannot blow into the device for the driver.

Although this provision seems to run afoul of the presumption of innocence, Texas courts have consistently held that such condition is necessary to protect a legitimate governmental interest in making public roadways safe for the motoring public.

Penalties include:

  • Fine – A fine not to exceed $4,000.00.
  • Jail – Confinement in the county jail for a term of no less than 72 hours or more than one (1) year.
  • Community service – Texas law mandates that a judge order no less than 80 hours or more than 200 hours.
  • Deep lung air device – Typically deep lung devices are required for all DWI second offenders during probation.
  • Suspension of driver's license – A person convicted of DWI, second may have their driving privilege suspended for no less than 180 days or more than two (2) years.

DWI, Third Offense (or Greater): Third Degree Felony

Penalties include:

  • Fine – A fine not to exceed $10,000.00.
  • Jail – Confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division (penitentiary) for a term of no less than 2 years or more than 10 years.
  • Deep lung air device – Deep lung air devices are generally ordered on all persons convicted of three or more DWI's both as conditions of bond and as conditions of any occupational or provisional licenses that may be awarded after conviction.
  • Community service – Texas law mandates that a judge order no less than 140 hours or more than 800 hours.
  • Suspension of driver's license – A person convicted of DWI, Second may have their driving privilege suspended for no less than 180 days or more than two (2) years.
  • Other – A third conviction for DWI indicates a significant problem with alcohol to the court or jury assessing punishment. Some type of rehabilitative treatment is therefore mandated in punishment if confinement in the penitentiary is to be avoided. In some cases an in-patient, incarceration program (Substance Abuse Felony Probation, SAFP) is ordered. This program requires confinement in a state facility for alcohol rehabilitation. After successful completion of the SAFP program, the person is then released and placed on probation for a term not to exceed 10 years. Another popular condition for habitual DWI offenders is a prescription for a drug named Antabuse. This drug will make a person violently ill if any alcohol is consumed. The alcohol can be contained in mouthwash or marinated food and will still have the same effect on the user. If a person has any type of liver problems, this drug can cause liver failure and death.

Texas law does not provide for any increased punishment after DWI, third offense. If a person presents a DWI, fourth offense or beyond, the typical punishment is confinement in the penitentiary from two (2) to ten (10) years without probation being granted. In some cases, SAFP may be granted upon proper request and showing that it is appropriate.

Contact Our Denton County DWI Lawyers at (940) 580-2899

If you have been charged with any of the above DWI offenses or any other offense related to driving while intoxicated – such as intoxication assault or manslaughter – contact our firm. We stand ready to defend your rights in a court of law and help you seek favorable results. Schedule your free consultation with the Law Offices of Tim Powers and we can explain your rights and options, as well as our plan to help you moving forward.

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