Texas DUI & DWI Guide

There are serious consequences that come along with a DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction in the state of Texas. Your license may be suspended. You will be required to pay expensive fines and court costs. You will even spend time in jail.

DWI law is very intricate. If you have recently been arrested for drunk driving, you must immediately find an attorney who is well-versed in Texas’s drinking and driving laws. A good attorney may mean the difference between life-altering penalties and the life you knew before your arrest.

A first-time DWI offense is a Class B Misdemeanor. The law states that “a person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” The prosecutor may make his or her case by demonstrating that the driver did not have the normal use of physical faculties, and mental faculties, and had a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 percent or higher.

It is important to note that even if you have a prescription if a substance makes you intoxicated, you may be found guilty of DWI.

There are additional elements that may make your case more difficult. If you have had a previous DWI conviction, you are facing increased jail time, fines, and a longer driver’s license suspension. You will also face more problems if you assaulted someone or committed manslaughter with your vehicle while intoxicated.

You will also face charges of “endangering a child” if you are arrested for DWI with a minor in the car.

What is a DUI in Texas?

Alcohol and driving do not mix. Regardless of the circumstances, you should never get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol. First and foremost, driving impaired is extremely dangerous—a fact that cannot be disputed once you take into account the number of alcohol-related fatalities that occur each year—and secondly, it is a serious criminal act. Indeed, whether you live in California or Florida, driving under the influence (DUI) is against the law in every area of the United States, and while the exact laws vary from one state to another, there are several basic drunk driving facts that apply to all drivers.

Depending on the laws in your area, a DUI conviction can carry a number of stiff penalties, including a license suspension and/or jail sentence. Unfortunately, when facing the possibility of losing their driving privileges or spending time in jail, many drivers overlook one of the most common DUI penalties in the nation—the multitude of fines they may have to pay if they are convicted of drunk driving.

DUI Cost in Texas

If you are arrested for driving under the influence, your wallet will begin to feel the impact almost immediately. First, you’ll be required to pay bail before you are released from jail—an obligation that can cost anywhere from $150 to $2,500. After your arrest, your vehicle may also be towed and impounded, which will add an additional $100 to $1,000 dollars onto your expenses (and if you fail to pay these fees, your vehicle could even be auctioned to recoup these costs).

Of course, if you are found guilty of the charges against you, you can expect to incur far more expenses than those listed above. In most states, the average fine for a DUI conviction is between $300 and $1,200—and that doesn’t include any additional penalties that may be imposed, such as license reinstatement fees ($60 to $250), alcohol treatment ($150 or more), and DUI school (usually around $100-$250). Plus, you may need to request time off from work in order to attend court and fulfill your sentencing requirements, which could lead to a substantial loss of income.

You should also be aware of the long-term financial effects of a DUI conviction. Once your fines are paid and your sentence is complete, you may still face exorbitant insurance costs. Indeed, many companies charge convicted drunk drivers two to three times more for insurance and, oftentimes, you may not qualify for a lower rate for several years. Child custody and divorce can also come into play.

As you can see, a drunk driving conviction can be quite expensive. On average, a first-time DUI offense costs $10,000 or more—and that’s assuming you weren’t involved in an accident or charged with an additional crime. You can expect to pay more if you are a repeat offender or had a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.15% at the time of your arrest. In light of these costs, many drivers find hiring an attorney more affordable than foregoing legal counsel.

If you were recently arrested for drunk driving, it is important to look for an attorney who is well-versed in the DUI laws in your area. What’s more, make sure the attorney you select handles DUI defense cases exclusively, as most general practitioners do not have specialized knowledge in the area of drunk driving defense (such as the science of breath testing, for example). To locate a skilled DUI attorney in your area, submit your information online today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

DWI Texas First Offense Cost

For a person’s first DWI offense, they will spend between 72 hours and 180 days in jail. In addition, they are subject to fines up to $2,000 and their driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of a year. A second offense carries a possible fine of $4,000. An offender will spend between a month and a year in jail. Their driver’s license will be suspended for a maximum of 2 years. If a person is convicted of DWI the third time, they face up to 10 years in prison, a $4,000 fine, and a driver’s license suspension for up to 2 years.

DWI Texas Second Offense Cost

If you are found in possession of alcohol and are under 21, the following will occur on the first offense: 30-day driver’s license suspension, 8 to 12 hours of community service, alcohol awareness classes, and a fine of up to $500. If a second or third offense occurs, the driver’s license can be suspended for 180 days. If the offender is above the age of 17 they face a maximum of $2,000 in fines and 180 days in jail for the third offense.

If you are under the legal drinking age of 21 and are drinking and driving, the following will occur:  60-day driver’s license suspension, $500 fine, 20 to 40 hours of community service, and alcohol awareness classes. Penalties increase with subsequent offenses.

The state of Texas has a zero-tolerance rule. That means an individual under the age of 21 cannot possess any alcohol in their blood. The above consequences will occur if the amount of alcohol is very minimal. If the BAC is .08 or greater and the individual is 17 they face up to 180 days in jai

6 Facts that MUST be proven before you can be found Guilty of a Texas DWI

If you are arrested for DWI in the state of Texas, the following facts must be proven by the State:

  1. Your Identity;
  2. You were operating a motor vehicle;
  3. In a public place;
  4. In a specific county (i.e., Austin, Houston, Dallas, etc.) in the state of Texas;
  5. Your blood or breath alcohol level was over the legal limit; OR
  6. You did not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties

These 6 facts must each be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before you can, lawfully, be convicted of a DWI in Texas.

What you MUST do IMMEDIATELY to preserve your right to drive

  • The arresting officer should have provided you with paperwork about the suspension of your driver’s license (DIC-24 statutory warning form);
  • You have 15 days from the day of your arrest to request an ALR hearing to contest the suspension of your license or your license will be AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED;
  • If you do not request an ALR hearing within 15 days of your arrest, there is no way to save your license from being suspended.
  • The request for an ALR hearing must be done according to SOAH (State Office of Administrative Hearings) rules. As a courtesy, my office will request your ALR hearing free of charge if you contact us for an interview.

5 Requirements which must be followed before chemical or roadside tests are valid

  1. The officer must have had a reasonable suspicion that you were violating the law;
  2. The officer must have either had probable cause to arrest you or obtain your consent for roadside tests;
  3. The officer must inform you of your rights concerning a breath or blood test;
  4. The officer must have probable cause before he arrests you and before he requires you to take a chemical test
  5. The officer must give you your Miranda rights after you are arrested if he is going to interrogate you.

Texas DWI: How can an arresting officer’s testimony be discredited?

  • By his inconsistent statements his failure to record all the facts in his report, or his failure to properly recollect the facts of your arrest;
  • By his inability to conduct the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in the prescribed manner;
  • By cross-examining the officer and making him admit that he made a mistake.

What effect will a DWI arrest have on my driver’s license and when will I be able to drive?

  1. If your blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit or you refused a test, you may not be able to drive at all for a long period of time;
  2.  If you refused a breath test, your license may be suspended for 6 months (180 days);
  3. If you submitted to a breath test and you were over .08, then your license may be suspended for 3 months (90 days).
  4. Keep in mind: If your license is suspended, you may be granted an occupational license
  5. HOWEVER: If you have prior DWI contact with law enforcement or if your license has previously been suspended, there may be a waiting period before the court will grant you an occupational license.

Texas-Size DWI Penalties

You may spend 3 days to 180 days in jail for a first offense. You will face a fine of $2,000 and have to pay an annual fee of $1,000 to $2,000 for three years in order to have your license reinstated. You can also face probation for 1 year. Other penalties may be loss of job, restricted travel, insurance problems, ignition interlock, vehicle impoundment, and alcohol treatment.

Texas BAC

If the police suspect you of DWI, you will be asked to take a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine). If you have a blood alcohol content of .08% or more in Texas, you are DWI. Blood tests are the most accurate, but breath tests are often given because they can be administered on the scene by police.

Field Sobriety Tests

The police may ask you to take a field sobriety test. The most common are the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus), the one-leg stand, and the walk and turn. These tests help police determine if you have been drinking and driving by checking skills such as balance and any involuntary eye jerking.

Ignition Interlock

The judge may order this device to be installed in your car. You must breathe in the machine alcohol-free in order for it to start.

Zero Tolerance

If you’re DWI while under 21, you will face serious penalties such as a 60-day license suspension, up to a $500 fine, 20 to 40 hours of community service, and an alcohol awareness class.

Find a Qualified Texas DWI Lawyer

Texas is the second-largest state and in it are many skilled lawyers who specialize in DWI cases just like yours. Find one and you may win your case.

Criminal Defense Attorney Joe Cannon
6614 Barronton Dr, Spring, TX 77389
(713) 960-0777
Serving Spring, TX, The Woodlands, TX