Driving while intoxicated in Texas is defined as operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. DWI is a very common occurrence not just in Texas but all over the United States. According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), in 2016, 65,000 people were arrested for DWI in Texas alone.
It usually starts with a familiar story. You get off a long day of work and meet some friends at the bar for a drink. One drink quickly turns into five and the hour you planned on spending there has turned into three. You feel you can make it home fine, but end up getting pulled over, leading to the dreaded DWI. Congratulations, it’s time to find out what your criminal defense options are.
Before hiring a lawyer and starting your DWI defense though, you may be wondering how being charged with a DWI will affect you.
Your first time being pulled over for a DWI will not usually result in felony charges, but there will still be harsh penalties. Depending on the judge, attorneys, circumstances of your arrest, your criminal record, and overall criminal defense, you can face a variety of penalties.
First of all, you are probably going to lose your driver’s license for some amount of time. In Texas on your first offense, your license can be suspended anywhere from 90 to 365 days. Even if you are not sentenced to any jail time for your DUI conviction, you will probably be given a probation sentence, the terms of which are determined by the sentencing judge. Your wallet is also going to feel quite a hit as a fine of up to $2,000 can be put on you. Your insurance will cost possibly two to three times more than before.
There is a possibility of spending anywhere from a few days to 180 days in jail. To try to prevent an event like this from happening again, you may be required to attend DWI interventions or education programs or have a ignition interlock device installed in your car.
A second offense with DWI becomes much more serious. There is no limit to how old your previous conviction may be in order to receive these added penalties. A DWI second offense is a class A misdemeanor with a fine of up to $4,000. You can also see jail sentences of 30 days to one year, and a possible driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to two years. Also upon conviction, there is an annual $1,500-$2,000 surcharge fee every year for 3 years in order to retain your driver’s license. You will be required to install a vehicle ignition interlock device on your car, and are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle not equipped with an interlock device.
The third time you have been arrested for a DWI is very serious. Where the first two instances are a misdemeanor, a third DWI in Texas is a third-degree felony. Your criminal defense team is going to advise you about the following penalties you are likely to face.
You can face anywhere from two to ten years in state prison and your license is going to be suspended for a minimum of two years. Once you regain your license, you have to pay a surcharge of up to $2,000 every year to keep it. You lose all rights to own a firearm and your fines may cost up to $10,000. Between the many lawyer bills and surcharges added onto those fines, you will be losing a significant chunk of money.
Of course, just because you face criminal charges, that doesn’t mean you will be found guilty. To mount the best possible criminal defense, contact DWI law firms near you for legal representation.