Texas DWI Laws

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A Comprehensive Overview of the Texas DWI Laws

Some states have harsher penalties than others. If you need an attorney experienced with Texas DWI Laws, contact Spangler Law, PLLC. Book a consultation with us.

Understanding DWI Laws in Texas

Humans are prone to making mistakes, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI). Unfortunately, these mistakes can significantly impact others. If you or a loved one are facing DWI charges in Texas, you’re most likely feeling scared, confused, frustrated, and more. It’s true that fighting DWI in Texas isn’t easy, but don’t worry. Spangler Law PLLC is here to help you. Our skilled defense attorneys are ready to take your case and, ideally, help you avoid DWI conviction.

As per the Texas DWI law, driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated means “a loss of the ability of the mental or physical faculties caused by the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, or a combination of substances into the body.” Simply put, it refers to instances where a person’s mental and physical abilities are impaired due to the consumption of intoxicating substances such as alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs.

There are legal limits for blood alcohol levels. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or more, and you are over the age of 21, it is considered a DWI. Texas law imposes harsher penalties for DWI convictions if the blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 percent or more.

Texas Penal Code Governs DWI

Texas DWI laws have been highlighted in the Texas Penal Code Section 49.04. Various sections of the law regulate DWI crimes.

Texas Penal Code 49.04 states that if a driver is arrested while intoxicated and operating a car in a public space, they can be charged with a Class A or Class B misdemeanor. You can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor if the driver has an open container of alcohol in immediate possession.

If, on the other hand, the BAC level is 0.15 percent or above at the time of analysis, then the offense is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor. Texas drunk driving penalties can increase if the suspect used illegal or controlled substances like cocaine.

Penalties for DWI

Different states have different laws regarding driving under the influence offenses. The Texas law enforcement and criminal justice system is considered particularly thorough and strict compared to other states.

First-time DWI offenses, including DWIs associated with driving commercial vehicles, are typically classified as Class B misdemeanors. DWI penalties for Class B misdemeanors include:

  • Fines
  • Jail term
  • Community service
  • DWI education programs
  • Higher car insurance premium

If you face a DWI charge involving severe injuries or fatalities, you can be punished by imprisonment in the county jail. The penalties can increase considerably for drivers with a history of DWI convictions. The punishments get more severe for DWI claims involving death.

Below is a breakdown of DWI penalties.

First DWI

A first-time DWI offense is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. Individuals arrested for the first time may spend at least 72 hours (3 days) in jail. Drivers detained while in the custody of an open alcohol container in the vehicle may spend at least six days in county jail.

First-time DWI offenders can face a maximum jail term of 180 days (6 months). Being a Class B misdemeanor, drivers will have their licenses suspended for 90 days up to 1 year. Your driver’s license will be suspended if you test positive for the maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.

First offense DWI carries hefty fines. Offenders may be required to pay fines as high as $2,000. Drivers facing license suspension may pay $1,000 to $2,000 annually for three years to keep their licenses.

First-time DWI offenders may be placed under probation for some time. You may be required to participate in special educational programs concerning alcohol abuse. Failure to complete such programs can lead to losing a driver’s license.

Second DWI

The second DWI offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. A second DWI integrates a higher fine of up to $4,000. Second, DWI offenders can face a jail term of up to 1 year.

Drivers convicted of a second DWI can have their licenses suspended for 18 months. In addition, you will have to pay a certain fee to regain your suspended license.

Third DWI

Third DWI, as well as intoxication assault, is classified as a third-degree felony. Intoxication assault is an offense where you cause serious bodily injury to someone while driving under the influence.

A third DWI is a state jail felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment in state prison for at least two years. The prison time may also be extended up to 10 years.

Common DWI Legal Terms and Questions Explained

Can You Drive After a DWI in Texas?

The police officer will often take your license when you are arrested for DWI. In its place, they may give you a Notice of Suspension paper. This typically can be used for 40 days before your license suspension becomes official.

In order to prevent the license suspension, you may be able to try requesting a Administrative License Revocation hearing within 15 days of your arrest. However, there is no guarantee you will win the hearing. And, there are some cases (such as refusing a breath test or blowing over 0.08%) where your license will still be suspended.

Intoxication Manslaughte

“Intoxication Manslaughter” is the term used to refer to accidentally killing someone while driving drunk. The crime is classified as a second-degree felony. It involves an imprisonment term of at least two years and can extend up to 20 years. Offenders may also be placed in hundreds of hours of community service. In addition, you may be required to pay up to $10,000.

DWI With a Child Passenger

DWI offenses involving child passengers less than 15 years old carry severe penalties. Drivers involved in such a crime can face a jail term of 2 years, a driving license suspension, and a fine of up to $10,000. 

What Happens After Refusal to Submit to Field Sobriety Tests?

Failure to submit a sobriety/ chemical test can lead to license suspension.

Let the Team at Spangler Law, PLLC Help with Your DWI Case

Working with an attorney when facing DWI charges is a good idea, as it will help you in many ways:

  • An attorney will be familiar with state law and all of its nuances, making them best suited to help counter criminal convictions.

  • If you have prior DWI convictions, the stakes are even higher. Texas criminal defense lawyers can review your criminal history and represent you more effectively than you might be able to alone.

  • An experienced defense attorney can help make sure you do not miss any hearings, filings, or judicial proceedings. They will help you know what to expect, and will guide you and fight on your behalf.

  • Our DUI lawyers at Spangler Law PLLC can help challenge a license suspension. You have only 15 days from the time of arrest to request a hearing, so time is of the essence.

Seek assistance from Spangler Law PLLC to protect your legal rights. Book a consultation today!