Consequences of a First DWI Conviction in Texas
Someone is hurt or killed in a crash involving alcohol every 20 minutes in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. That’s a frightening statistic, and Texas law does its best to discourage driving under the influence. (“DUI” is short for “driving under the influence,” and DWI means “driving while intoxicated.”) In Texas, DWI refers to a person operating a motor vehicle in a public place with his or her mental or physical faculties compromised due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of those substances. DWI is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. It’s also illegal to have an open container of alcohol anywhere inside your car (a Class C misdemeanor) .
A person who has a .08 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration) is considered to be intoxicated (0.4 for commercial drivers). The state has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21, and the terms “DUI” or “DUA” (driving under the influence of alcohol) are only used in cases where a young driver has any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system. A police officer can determine impairment through a test that measures BAC in breath samples or through a field sobriety test.
Your first DWI charge is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of 180 days to three years. Your drivers license may be suspended for up to two years, and you may be required to pay up to $2,000 a year to keep your license for three years. If your BAC was 0.15 or more in your first offense, it constitutes a Class A misdemeanor, earning you up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Your vehicle insurance premiums will increase significantly.
You may not be punished to the full extent of the law on your first DWI charge. Don’t get convicted for DWI a second or third time. You will have to pay a large fine, you will lose your driver’s license for a period of time, and you may go to jail. In Houston a few years ago, a repeat offender was sentenced to life in prison after his fifth DWI conviction.
You have rights when you are pulled over in Texas. You can refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, blood test, or field sobriety test, and you have the right to refuse to answer questions, and to ask to be allowed to leave before taking a test or being questioned. If the officer does not let you leave, you can ask to speak with an attorney immediately. If you want to fight a DWI charge, you will need an experienced DWI attorney to defend you. The options for defending a DWI charge may include: necessity, duress, or involuntary intoxication. Your attorney may also question the legitimacy of the traffic stop, the propriety of the administration or accuracy of any test performed, or other improper police conduct.
At Hudson Law Firm, we put PERSONAL back into Personal Injury Law. For an injury claim evaluation, call us at (972) 360-9898, or visit our website to chat with an associate. We understand and care about your injury, and look forward to helping you with your accident claim.