Penalties and Defenses for a 1st DWI in Texas.

If you face DWI charges, you may not know how to proceed. Here’s everything you need to know about penalties and defenses for a first DWI in Texas.

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and your prior criminal history, a DWI penalty will vary. Even for first-time offenders, a DWI conviction can have far-reaching consequences. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, you may beat DWI charges.

What Is a DWI?

A DWI, or driving while impaired, penalizes operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Texas Penal Code 49.01 defines intoxication in two parts.

To secure a conviction, a prosecutor must prove one of the following:

  • The driver had decreased mental and physical faculties because of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more substances, or any other substance.
  • The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds 0.8 percent.

A prosecutor can prove your intoxication without a breathalyzer test or with a BAC below the legal limit. As long as the circumstances of your arrest are sufficient to prove substance-caused impairment to a jury, you may face severe penalties.

Related: Texas Criminal Defense FAQS

Criminal Penalties for a 1st Offense DWI

Under Texas law, DWI penalties increase with each conviction. The first two offenses are misdemeanors, while the third and fourth become felonies.

A first offense DWI can be a Class A and a Class B misdemeanor. If your BAC exceeded 0.15 at the time of the incident, your charge becomes a Class A misdemeanor.

For Class B misdemeanors, penalties include:

  • Maximum fine of $2,000
  • Jail sentence of up to 180 days
  • License renewal surcharge of up to $2,000 for three years

For Class A misdemeanors, penalties include:

  • Maximum fine of $4,000
  • Jail sentence of up to one year
  • License renewal surcharge of up to $2,000 for three years

DWIs have severe consequences in Texas. Therefore, you should consult an experienced DWI defense attorney to understand how to get a more lenient sentence.

Administrative Penalties for a 1st Offense DWI

Administrative penalties also increase in severity with each subsequent conviction. A DWI mark on your record will affect your ability to drive.

For the first offense, penalties include:

  • Suspension of driver’s license for one year
  • Payment of a license surcharge of $2,000 for three years to reinstate driving privileges
  • Additional fees and costs related to your license

Exceptions to administrative penalties can apply. If you must drive to get to work, you may obtain a hardship license. A hardship license allows you to commute to and from work only. However, you will bear additional costs, such as an interlock device. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer, which tests your BAC before the operation of a vehicle.

Collateral Consequences of a DWI

A DWI conviction affects your personal and professional reputation, causing collateral damage to your life in addition to legal penalties.

The most common collateral consequences include:

  • Losing your job
  • Struggling to find housing
  • Forgoing custodial rights
  • Forfeiting professional licenses
  • Giving up your right to own a gun or vote

Related: How to Disclose a Criminal Record on a Job Application

Defenses for a 1st Offense DWI

DWIs have far-reaching consequences for Texas residents. Therefore, avoiding a conviction is crucial. Even in some far-gone cases, DWI arrests are defensible.

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and the experience of your attorney, you can minimize your charge.

An experienced attorney will investigate:

  • Police report to check if officers violated your rights during the DWI traffic stop
  • Video footage as evidence of your performance on sobriety tests and their administration
  • Bread and blood chemical test results and collection of samples

How to Avoid Jail Time for a 1st DWI in Texas

Texas offers no minimum sentence for first-offense DWIs. Therefore, a competent attorney can argue for probation to replace possible jail time. Overall, the best way to avoid jail time is to maintain a clean record and not commit a DWI again. The best intervention is prevention.

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If you or a loved one would like to learn more about 1st DWI Texas: Penalties & Defense, get your free consultation with one of our Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas today!