A DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) charge is a serious offense. A DWI carries a series of penalties that increase in severity with each consecutive DWI charge. In Texas, a DWI charge brings with it both administrative and criminal penalties for first time offenders.
DWI – First offense administrative penalties in Texas:
- A DWI arrest initiates the process of an Administrative License Revocation (ALR). An ALR for a DWI arrest involves the suspension of your driver’s license. The suspension can be for a period of up to 180 days depending on several factors including whether a blood or breathalyzer test is failed or if those tests are refused. An ALR is separate and distinct from the criminal process of a DWI arrest and has an absolute 15-day limit on requesting a hearing, however, an ALR can be successfully contested in certain cases.
- License reinstatement for first a first DWI offense does not necessarily require completion of alcohol or substance abuse counseling and screening, nor are drivers usually required to use ignition interlock devices, unless ordered by the court.
- An Occupational Driver’s License (ODL) can be obtained during the license suspension period, but the ODL comes with a litany of requirements.
DWI – First offense criminal penalties if convicted in Texas can include:
- Possible incarceration with a maximum of 180 days. This can change if any elevating factors are present.
- Fines not to exceed $2,000, again unless elevating factors are present.
- Mandatory payment of $1,000 or up to $2,000 if your BAC was higher than 0.15. This fine is paid to the State of Texas surcharge program for DWI offenders.
- Probation after conviction, mandatory classes, community service, court costs and administrative fees.
- A conviction for a DWI remains on your record and influences future DWI cases for a period of ten years.
It is important to take a DWI arrest (even a first time offense) very seriously. The terms of a DWI conviction can be subject to negotiation and even a favorable plea bargain agreement. Defendants can also actively seek out dismissal of the charges all together.
A lawyer will be able to walk you through this process, negotiate for you in both the ALR and criminal process, and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.