What Happens if You are Charged with a DWI in Texas

Every 20 minutes, someone in Texas is injured or killed in a car crash involving alcohol. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious charge and it comes with serious consequences. If you are pulled over on suspicion of a DWI in Texas, here’s what can happen:

You May Be Arrested and Taken to Jail

If a police officer has reason to believe that you are driving while impaired, field sobriety tests will be administered. If you fail these tests, you will be arrested for DWI and taken to jail.

You will be charged with a DWI when your blood or breath alcohol concentration is .08 or higher. The consequences of a DWI will depend on how many times you have been convicted of this offense:

First Offense

  • Up to $2,000 fine
  • 3-180 days in jail
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to 12 months

Second Offense

  • Up to $4,000 fine
  • 1-12 months in jail
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to 2 years

Third Offense

  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • 2-10 years in prison
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to 2 years

Subsequent Offense Fines

Changes to Texas law have made DWI consequences more severe.

  • First DWI in 36-month period: $3,000
  • Subsequent DWIs in a 36-month period: $4,500
  • BAC of .15 or more: $6,000

If you are arrested on a DWI charge, you will need to make arrangements to make bond (surety bond, personal bond or cash bond).

You May Lose Your License

Under Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Program (a unit of the Texas Department of Public Safety), drivers will have their licenses suspended if:

  • A blood or breath test results in a BAC of .08 while driving a non-commercial motor vehicle
  • A blood or breath test results in a BAC of .04 while driving a commercial vehicle

If you refuse a breathalyzer or a blood or urine test, your license will be suspended for 6 months. You will have 15 days from the date of your suspension notice to request a hearing to contest the suspension. Otherwise, the suspension will automatically go into effect 40 days after you were served the notice.

If you comply with the blood or breath test, you will keep your driver’s license until the results of your BAC come in. If the results show that you were over the limit, your license will be suspended. You will have 20 days from the notice of suspension to request a hearing to contest the suspension.

License suspension under the ALR program is not related to the criminal proceedings for a DWI.

You May Have to Install an Ignition Interlock Device

If you are convicted of a DWI two or more times in a five-year period, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This device prevents you from operating your vehicle if you have been drinking.

In certain situations, an ignition interlock device will be required regardless of whether it is your first or a subsequent offense. These situations include:

  • If you are under 21 years of age
  • If your BAC is over .10
  • If you are involved in a car accident while intoxicated

For a second DWI offense, an ignition interlock device is required as well as probation of 1-2 years.

You Will Have to Hire a Lawyer

If you are arrested and charged with a DWI, you will need to hire a lawyer. If an accident was involved, you will need to hire a car wreck lawyer. DWI charges are serious. This is not a charge that you want fight on your own. A lawyer will help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

A lawyer can attempt to get your case thrown out by arguing that law enforcement officers did not follow proper protocols when administering field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests. A lawyer can also attempt to plea for a lesser charge, for example reducing a Class A misdemeanor to Class B misdemeanor.

The responsible choice is to abstain from drinking and driving altogether.  There are many alternatives, even if you drove your car to the bar and ended up drinking, request an Uber or call a friend to get home safely.  It costs far less to leave your car overnight than it does when you get charged with a DWI, pay a fine, lose your license and have to hire a lawyer.