DWI Penalties in Houston
Penalties in Texas DWI Cases
Under Texas law, a person that gets behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater, can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). The consequences of a DWI arrest will depend on the circumstances of your case. Penalties can include:
- Jail time
- Court Costs
- DWI School
- Vehicle Forfeiture
- Pretrial Diversion
- Community Service
- License Suspension
- SCRAM Ankle Monitoring
- Increased Insurance Rates
- Ignition Interlock Device Installation
- Annual License Surcharges ($1,000 - $2,000 per year for 3 Years)
You can expect sentencing enhancements for open containers, driving with a minor in the car, an accident involving injuries, and an excessively high blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Penalties will also be harsh if you have a prior DWI criminal record.
Jail or Prison Time and Fines
Although a number of other statutes are involved regarding conditions of bond, community supervision, and driver's license suspensions DWI punishments are generally described by Chapter 49 and Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code as follows:
A first DWI conviction for DWI is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. However if it is found that the motorist had an open container in their immediate possession, there is minimum term of confinement of six days.
A second DWI conviction or a first DWI where there is a BAC greater than .15 is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a $4,000 fine with a thirty day minimum term of confinement if the Defendant has a prior conviction of certain intoxication offenses.
A third DWI conviction is a 3rd degree felony punishable by two to twenty years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine if the accused has two prior DWI or related convictions or a single prior conviction for intoxication manslaughter.
DWI with a child passenger (under 15 years of age) is a state jail felony punishable from six months to two years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine.
Intoxication Assault is also a third degree felony for a first offender unless the person who suffered serious bodily injury is a peace officer, fire fighter, or emergency services personnel while in the actual discharge of their official duty.
Intoxication Manslaughter is also a second degree felony unless the person killed is a peace officer, fire fighter, or emergency services personnel while in the actual discharge of their official duty in which case it is a first degree felony punishable for a term of imprisonment of five to ninety-nine years of life and up to a ten thousand dollar fine.
Individuals with two prior DWI or related convictions who commit intoxication manslaughter have been charged with felony murder in Texas, a first degree felony.
A motor vehicle has also been found by Texas courts to be a deadly weapon which finding may affect the eligibility and/or conditions of probation or parole.
After a second conviction within five years of the first, the defendant is required to have an ignition guardian interlock ("blow and go") device installed on any motor vehicle they own or operate for not less than a year after the end of the applicable license suspension.
Pretrial Diversion and Probation
There is no deferred adjudication for Driving While Intoxicated and related offenses.
Many counties, including Harris County, do grant pretrial diversion type relief in appropriate programs, successful completion of which may render the accused eligible for an
expunction, depending upon the terms of the diversion agreement with the local prosecutor.
Misdemeanor cases may be eligible for traditional community supervision ("straight probation") for an initial term of up to two years, felonies for ten. However, Article 42.12 Section 13 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure sets forth specific terms of DWI Community Supervision in addition to those normally imposed including, but not limited to, minimum terms of confinement as a condition of probation; drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment, courses such as the "DWI School" and "Victim Impact Panel" probation & course fees, license suspension, as appropriate, often depending on the nature of the offense and prior DWI related convictions.
Driver's License Suspension
Motorists convicted of Driving While Intoxicated may have their driver's license suspended as a result of the conviction. This is separate and apart from the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process that occurs as a result of the refusal to submit or failure of breath or blood tests at the time of arrest.
Even a first offender may lose his or her license for a period of ninety days to one year in certain circumstances. Repeat offenders face more serious consequences including longer suspensions, higher fees, and the inability to obtain an occupational license during a period of the suspension.
Commercial drivers may lose their ability to perform their occupation, even after a first offense.
A Houston criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of Q. Tate Williams PC can review your arrest and give you important advice regarding your legal and defense options to help avoid conviction and/or serious consequences of a DWI arrest. My name is Tate and I have successfully defended clients accused of DWI for over 10 years. I know what to expect from the prosecution, and will fight the charges against you with resolve.
Aggressive Defense In Your Time of Need
In addition to the many penalties that can result from a DWI guilty verdict, you will also end up with a criminal record that can affect your future for years to come. If you are a commercial driver, you will be facing both the loss of your driving privileges and your livelihood. Representation by an accomplished litigator can be vital to the outcome of your case. Even if this is your first offense, you can be sentenced to jail and ordered to pay steep fines. A DWI arrest should never be treated lightly. I will build a tough defense and work hard to protect your rights. Contact a Houston DWI attorney at my office if you are facing drunk driving charges for qualified legal advice and representation.