If you have been charged with a first DWI in Texas, which is a Class B misdemeanor, you may be wondering what penalties you could be facing. The definition of what constitutes a DWI is the same for both first-time and repeat offenders. A DWI is defined as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher while operating a motor vehicle. However, that is not the end of the story. If you have consumed a sufficient amount of alcohol or other intoxicant that impairs your “normal use of mental or physical faculties,” you can be convicted of a DWI in Texas. This is true regardless of what appears when you blow into a breathalyzer.
Although the definition of DWI is the same regardless of how many times you have been convicted, the penalties imposed for the first DWI in Texas are not as harsh as those imposed on repeat offenders. That is the good news. The bad news is that you face serious penalties, which include the loss of driving privileges, fines, and jail time. However, the state of Texas has to convict you before any penalty is imposed. An experienced DWI attorney may be able to win an acquittal. If you do not get an acquittal, your attorney can help reduce the harsh penalties that you face.
The penalties that can be imposed for the first DWI by a criminal court include, but are not limited to:
- A fine not to exceed $2,000
- A jail sentence not to exceed 180 days
- A Minimum of 72 hours of jail time
- The minimum penalty is upped to six days in jail if you are convicted of a DWI with an open alcohol container in the vehicle
- The court can suspend your driver’s license for up to one year upon the conviction
Anyone charged with a DWI is likely very concerned about the consequences. But, if this is your first offense and you have been charged with a first DWI, chances are you are even more worried and unsure of the process. Speak to an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible because important decisions must be made early in the process.
Practicing Criminal Law Since 1985
Your Driver’s License May Be Suspended before the Criminal Court Acts
The first hurdle you face comes from an administrative court, not the criminal court. An administrative board/court can suspend your driver’s license after your arrest for a first DWI. This can occur before your case is heard by a criminal court.
At the time of your arrest, a law enforcement officer will confiscate your driver’s license. You will also be issued a temporary driving permit that expires on the 41st day after the permit is issued. If you are facing your first DWI in Texas, your head will be spinning and you might miss important details. One of those important details is that you only have 15 days to give notice that you want a hearing before an administrative suspension of your driver’s license occurs. If you do nothing or wait beyond the 15 days to request a hearing, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended. That is why you need to hire a Tyler DWI attorney immediately to advise you concerning the administrative hearing.
All First-Time DWIs Are Not the Same
All first-time offenses are not the same. Driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle is a state jail felony. The penalties for a first-time DWI do not apply. The punishment for a first-time state jail felony is confinement in a state jail from 180 days to 2 years. In addition, a fine can be imposed of up to $10,000.
In addition, if you are convicted of a DWI with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, you will be facing the stiffer penalties of a Class A misdemeanor.
Mitigate the Damage
Penalties may sound harsh even for a first-time DWI. However, the statutes lay out the maximum punishments that can be imposed. A qualified DWI attorney can help mitigate the damage and penalties imposed on you. For example, the court can suspend your driver’s license and impose a fine of $2,000. Other restrictions and fines may be imposed on you, but your attorney can help you to get more favorable conditions.
It is also important to remember that a charge is simply an accusation—it is not the same as a conviction. Do not give up hope. Make a realistic plan to protect your interests, and retain an attorney who will help protect your legal rights.
Trial or Plea Bargain for a First DWI
If you are charged with a first DWI, you and your attorney will need to decide if you want to go to trial or agree to a plea bargain. In consultation with your attorney, you will need to review the evidence the state has against you. Then, you need to determine your goals.
For some people, a DWI (even a first-time conviction) can be devastating. For example, a commercial driver who gets a DWI may be jeopardizing his or her livelihood. Do not make the decision to enter into a plea bargain out of fear or anger. If your attorney does not think the evidence is present for the state to get a conviction, they may recommend a trial. Trials, however, are by nature unpredictable.
With a plea bargain, you will have to plead guilty. The upside to this, though, is that a plea bargain typically specifies the fines and other penalties the court will impose. Therefore, there are no surprises when the penalty is delivered by the court. Plea bargains and probation are not free, however. Typically, they come with probation fees and other price tags.
If you have been charged with a first DWI in Texas, you may be confused about what to do next. You need an attorney with extensive experience in DWI law who can help you mitigate the penalties you are facing and assist you during this stressful time.
John Eastland has developed a reputation in East Texas for being a relentless, tenacious advocate for his clients in DUI cases.
- Exclusive Focus on DWI
- Practicing Criminal Law since 1985
- Free In-Person Consultations
- Weekend Appointments Available
- Born & Raised in Texas
- Genuine Concern For Clients