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DWI charges and penalties in Texas

A drunk driving conviction in Texas can result in a combination of penalties for drivers including fines, incarceration and loss of driving privileges.

Despite the stigma associated with a drunk driving arrest, a large number of people who face such charges in Texas are highly responsible citizens. It is easier than many people may think to be close to or even slightly over the legal limit when driving after having a drink or two. A DWI arrest can be a very scary thing and understanding the potential consequences is important for anyone in this situation.

What does Texas consider intoxicated while driving?

The Texas penal code outlines that a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater can result in a drunk driving arrest. Having a child in a vehicle at the time of arrests can actually result in felony charges.

Driving with what can be considered an open container of alcohol in a vehicle is also illegal in Texas. However, if an open container is in a trunk, a locked glove box, or behind the last seating row if no trunk exists, a charge may be avoided for this.

What are penalties for a first DWI conviction?

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a first drunk driving conviction can send a driver to jail for up to 180 days. Drivers may lose the right to drive for up to 12 months and be ordered to pay fines as high as $2,000. In addition, an annual fee will be assessed for three years that allows the right to drive. This fee can be between $1,000 and $2,000.

What are the penalties for a second DWI conviction?

Upon being convicted for drunk driving for the second time , a driver may spend up to 12 months in jail and lose the right to drive for up to 24 months. Fines may reach $4,000 but the annual fee for three years will remain between $1,000 and $2,000. If the second conviction happens within five years of the first conviction, a driver may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device in a vehicle. This requires the driver to successfully pass a breath test before starting the vehicle.

What are the penalties for a third DWI conviction?

Instead of spending time in a state jail, a driver convicted of a third drunk driving offense will be put in prison for a minimum of two years. The sentence may last up to 10 years. Driving privileges will be lost for as long as 24 months and fines can go up to $10,000.

What else should drivers know?

In addition to the penalties above, the Texas Department of Public Safety explains that anyone holding a commercial driver’s license may lose that license if convicted for a drunk driving offense. People may also be required to participate in and complete a substance education program.

After a DWI arrest, drivers are encouraged to get legal representation promptly. Having proper guidance through a criminal defense can provide defendants with the information necessary to make the best choices.