One of the most common crimes committed in the state of Texas is driving while intoxicated (DWI or DUI). Some DWI arrests are necessary as they get extremely inebriated people off the road. However, most DWI offenders are simply hard-working Texas citizens who made the mistake of driving slightly buzzed. None of that matters overall if you’re facing criminal charges for DWI. Law enforcement will not hesitate to arrest you for DWI even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is barely above .08 %.
If you’re facing criminal charge of DWI for the first time, there’s no reason to give up and plead guilty. You’re not convicted of the crime unless the prosecution can prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Failure to do this will result in reduced or dismissed charges. That is why we highly encourage you to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you’ve been arrested with driving while intoxicated for the first time.
Texas First DWI Attorney
Driving while intoxicated is a serious crime, but it’s commonly committed in the state of Texas. It was reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDOT) that 89,539 people were charged with driving with intoxicated (DWI) in 2019. Since so many people commit DWI in the state of Texas, prosecutors offer first-time offenders various diversion programs in an effort to not clog up jails.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving while intoxicated, we recommend you call The Benken Law Firm. Criminal defense lawyer Brian Benken has represented hundreds of people accused of DWI, especially first-time offenders. He can utilize his skills and resources to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Learn more by calling Brian Benken’s office at (713) 223 - 4051. The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout all parts of Houston and Harris County including Woodland Heights, Southside Place, Downtown Houston, and Midtown.
- Texas First DWI Offense
- Penalty for First Time DUI in Texas
- License Suspension After DWI
- Additional Resources
First DWI in Texas
In Texas, if you drive while intoxicated by alcoholic beverages or drugs, you’ll be facing severe consequences. Under the Texas Penal Code Section 49.04, you’re guilty of DWI if:
- You operated a motor vehicle in a public place
- And your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was measured at .08 or higher OR your physical and mental faculties were impaired by drugs and/or alcohol
Law enforcement use a person’s blood alcohol concentration to determine if a person is intoxicated. The legal limit in Texas for a person to be considered inebriated is .08 %. Officers will use different types of chemical tests to determine blood alcohol concentration including breathalyzer tests, urine analysis, and blood analysis.
Texas Penal Code section 49.01 measures blood alcohol concentration by number of grams of alcohol per:
- 100 milliliters of blood
- 210 liters of breath
- 67 milliliters of urine
Although .08 BAC is the legal limit, it’s important to understand everyone processes alcohol differently. While testing can determine how many grams of alcohol are in your body, it can’t accurately determine how inebriated you are. While some people can barely function nonetheless drive at .08 %, others can barely feel the effects at the same limit. Unfortunately, to the law it doesn’t matter. If you have a BAC of .08 or higher, you’ll automatically be charged with driving while intoxicated.
What is the Punishment for the First DWI in Texas?
Driving while under the influence is a serious crime and carries harsh penalties. A first-time offense is a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. A judge may impose additional conditions to your sentencing, and these may include:
- Up to 100 hours of community service
- Community supervision
- Monthly reports to a probation officer
- Install an ignition interlock device to your car
- Participate and finish DWI school
- Attend and finish an alcohol and drug education program
If certain aggravating factors were present during the commission of the offense, then your penalties may be enhanced. For instance, having an open container in your car will result in a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six days.
If your blood alcohol concentration was or above .15%, then you’ll be charged with a class A misdemeanor instead. The maximum penalty for a class A misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Having a child passenger in your car during the offense will also result in enhanced penalties. You won’t face a class B misdemeanor, but instead a state jail felony if you’re convicted. The maximum punishment for a state jail felony is up to 24 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
License Suspension After DWI
Unfortunately, in Texas you’ll also face administrative penalties if you’re convicted of driving while intoxicated. If you have a BAC over.08 or refuse to comply with chemical testing, then your license will be suspended for a brief period. You cannot drive legally without finishing the suspension term and reinstating your license. Refusals have much longer suspension terms due to something known as implied consent laws.
Implied consent laws essentially state any person driving on Texas public roads are implicitly agreeing to DWI chemical testing administered by law enforcement. These laws establish that failure to comply with testing will automatically result in an administrative license suspension by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Listed below are the suspension terms for DWI depending on if you refused or complied with chemical testing at a DWI stop.
- BAC of .08 or higher — License will be suspended for no less than 90 days, but no longer than one year.
- Refusal to submit to chemical testing — License will be suspended for no less than 180 days, but no longer than two years.
Texas DWI Statute– Visit the official website for Texas Legislature to learn more about driving under the influence and the penalties for doing so. Access the statutes to find more information about DWI, intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter and other relevant vehicular crimes.
ALR Program in Texas– Visit the official website of Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) to learn more about their administrative license revocation program. Access the site to learn the suspension terms for refusal, failing a chemical test, and how to get a restricted license.
Texas Department of Transportation: DWI – Access the official website for the Texas Department of Transportation to read information regarding impaired driving and penalties. You can view answers to questions such as “when am I legally intoxicated?”
Houston First DWI Attorney | Harris County, TX
If you or someone you know has been charged with driving while intoxicated, contact The Benken Law Firm. The penalties for DWI are serious and long-lasting. Brian Benken can use his skills, resources, and wealth of experience to fight your charges and help you move on with your life. Call today to set up your first consultation with Brian Benken.
The Benken Law Firm can be reached at (713) 223 - 4051. We have offices in Houston, but accept clients throughout all parts of Harris County, Texas.