The criminal penalties for a DWI in Texas are as follows:
- DWI 1st offense – Class B misdemeanor punishable by 72 hours in jail to 180 days in the county jail, and/or a find up to $2,000.00.
- DWI 2nd offense – Class A misdemeanor punishable by no less than 30 days in jail to a maximum of 1 year in the county jail, and/or fine up to $4,000.00.
- DWI 3rd offense – 3rd degree felony punishable by 2 years to 10 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison facility, and an optional fine up to $10,000.00
- Intoxication Assault – DWI causing serious bodily injury. 3rd degree felony punishable by 2 years to 10 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison facility, and an optional fine up to $10,000.00.
- Intoxication Manslaughter – DWI causing death of an individual. 2nd degree felony punishable by 2 years to 20 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison facility, and an optional fine up to $10,000.00.
A person charged with a DWI may be eligible to receive community supervision (more commonly known as “Probation”) in lieu of going to jail. Under probation, a person will be sentenced to jail for a specific period of time, but the court will suspend the jail sentence and place the person on probation for a specified term. For example, in a DWI 1st, a defendant may be sentenced to jail for 15 months, but the court suspends the jail sentence and places the defendant on probation for 18 months.
In Texas, a person charged with DWI may NOT receive deferred adjudication probation. Under deferred adjudication probation, a court will defer a finding of guilt for the length of the probation term. Upon successful completion of the deferred adjudication probation, there will not be a conviction for the criminal offense and the person can request for the court to dismiss the case. In a DWI, the only type of probation available is called “straight probation.” This means that the person will not go to jail so long as all the probation conditions are satisfied, but there is a criminal conviction for the DWI offense. While on probation, the court can impose many conditions on a defendant that must be complied with in order to stay on probation. Probation conditions usually involve attending a DWI education class, attending a DWI victim impact panel class, submitting to drug / alcohol evaluation, performing community service hours, and reporting to a probation officer at least once a month. If any of the probation conditions are violated, a defendant’s probation is subject to revocation. If, for example, the defendant was sentenced to jail for 15 months, but the court suspended the jail sentence and placed the defendant on probation, the judge could revoke the defendant’s probation and the judge can sentence the defendant for up to 15 months in the county jail for violating the terms and conditions of the probation. Whether or not a person charged with DWI receives probation depends upon many factors such as the severity of the offense, prior criminal history, and if there was an accident. Generally, a first time DWI offender will receive probation ranging from 1 year to 18 months. The Wright Firm, L.L.P. provides skilled representation throughout Lewisville, Texas, and includes the cities of Dallas, Plano, Frisco, Arlington, Richardson, Flower Mound, Denton, Carrollton, Corinth, Allen, McKinney, Garland, and Dallas County, Denton County, Collin County, and Tarrant County, TX.
Other Penalties- Suspension of Driver’s License
There are two grounds upon which your driver’s license may be suspended after a DWI arrest. First, a driver’s license may be suspended for refusing to submit to a breath or blood test, or failing a breath or blood test. This type of license suspension is known as an administrative license revocation (ALR) suspension. If this is a first time DWI, the license suspension is 180 days for refusing to give either a breath or blood test, and 90 days for failing a breath or blood test (e.g., having a breath specimen over 0.08).
The second way that a driver’s license may be suspended is by having a criminal conviction for the DWI (e.g., pleading guilty or no contest before the court or receiving a guilty verdict by either a judge or a jury). This type of license suspension is known as a criminal conviction suspension.
An important difference between a criminal conviction suspension and an ALR suspension is that with a criminal conviction suspension, if the person is on probation and takes a DWI education class, then there will be a stay on the license suspension. However, if the person has any license suspension as a result of an ALR suspension, that suspension must still be served out.
If a person’s license is suspended under any of the two grounds mentioned above, they may be eligible to petition the court for an occupational license. An occupation license is a temporary license that will permit a person to drive to and from work and to perform household essential needs during a set time period of the day.
If a person has had prior DWIs, then the license suspension periods will be longer. If a person has had a prior ALR contact (e.g., license suspended for DWI breath test refusal) within 10 years of the current DWI arrest, then their license may be suspended for up to 2 years on the current DWI arrest if they refused to give a breath / blood specimen. If the person failed a breath/blood test on the current DWI arrest and has had a prior ALR contact within 10 years, then their license may be suspended for up to 1 year.
If a person is convicted of a DWI 2nd offense and has had a prior DWI conviction within the past 5 years, then the driver’s license may be suspended for up to 2 years. Prior DWIs and ALR contacts also affect a person’s ability to obtain an occupational license.
If a person is facing an ALR license suspension and has had a prior license suspension due to a DWI conviction within the past 5 years of the current DWI, then that person is not eligible to petition the court for an occupational license until 180 days of the license suspension has passed.
If the person is convicted of a DWI 2nd offense and has had a prior DWI conviction within the past 5 years, then person is not eligible to petition the court for an occupational license until 1 year of the license suspension has elapsed.
When a person is facing a DWI arrest for the second or third time, it is very important for that person to consult with a knowledgeable DWI Criminal Attorney that understands the rules and laws concerning license suspensions and obtaining an occupational license.
Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing
The only way to avoid a driver’s license suspension after refusing a breath / blood test, or failing a breath / blood test, is by contesting the grounds for the license suspension through an administrative license revocation hearing (ALR hearing). However, a request for an ALR hearing must be made within 15 days of the DWI arrest. If a request is timely made, then a person’s license will not be suspended until the judge at the ALR hearing renders a decision.