How Serious Is a DWI in Texas? This Is Everything to Know
Alcohol-related automobile crashes cause death or injury every 20 minutes in Texas. Stricter laws and regulations attempt to reduce this epidemic.
Facing a DWI in Texas is a serious issue that can lead to a variety of long-lasting consequences. They affect your financial situation, reputation, and more.
Knowing the potential consequences you may face before getting a DWI is one of the best ways to prepare the proper defense. It's also important to get the best possible lawyer.
Read on to learn the different types of drunk driving charges you may face and how serious all the consequences are.
Types of Drunk Driving Charges
A DUI and DWI in Texas are two very different charges. It's important to understand the differences between them.
DUI, or driving under the influence, is a charge reserved for any underage person driving with any level of alcohol in their blood or an open container in their vehicle.
DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. It applies in more than just cases of drunk driving.
It also may be used when you have a high concentration of recreational drugs in your system. It also applies when a combination of drugs and alcohol impair your physical and cognitive abilities.
The process of getting a DWI begins when you're stopped by an officer. If field tests provide enough clues, you'll be placed under arrest and transported to the station.
You'll undergo a blood and breath test to determine how intoxicated you are. If you refuse to provide these samples, your license will be suspended.
After the officer completes all the necessary paperwork, the booking process is complete. If your blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher, your license will still be suspended.
How Serious Is a DWI in Texas?
Despite the various legal and personal consequences of a drunk driving charge, 1.9% of citizens nationwide and 2.1% of Texans report driving after drinking too much.
The consequences for a DUI are less severe than a DWI but also increase with multiple offenses. The answer to a question like how bad is a DWI depends on several factors. The most important are the number of offenses and the circumstances.
The first offense leads to 40 hours of community service, alchohol awreness courses, and license suspensions of up to 2 months.
A first-time DWI offense in Texas can be classified as a felony if you cause a serious motor vehicle accident or bodily injury. In most cases, it's only considered a misdemenor.
Your second offense could lead to a variety of different consequences. It's more severe than a first-time offense but less than the third or more.
Potential consequences include jail sentences ranging from a month to a year, up to $4,000 in fines, and annual fees of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for 3 years to retain your license.
Your third DWI in Texas is likely to be considered a felony. This makes it a much more severe charge that comes with additional consequences.
These extra charges could include prison sentences of 2-10 years, fines of up to $10,000, annual fees, ignition switches, and more.
Any subsequent offense after your third will lead to even more severe penalties. The jail times and fine amounts will rise with each conviction.
An aggravated DWI is a specific type that leads to some of the most serious consequences and may be classified as a felony. It only applies under certain circumstances, including:
- Prior DWI convictions
- Accidents causing serious injury or death
- A BAC (blood alchohol content) level of 0.15% or more
- An open container of alcohol in your vehicle
- A child in the car
If anyone 15 years old or younger is in the car with you when you're charged with a DWI in Texas, you may be facing a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Child engagement charges nclude fines of $10,000 and 2 years in jail. Having children in the car during your charge can also increase the time you have to wait before you can get your license back to 180 days.
There are additional consequences you may face for a DWI charge in Texas. They include a blemished record, insurance issues, and a required interlock device.
Having a DWI on your record can hurt your chances of getting into the career or college of your choice. Removing it is a difficult, costly process.
This is not the only issue with having a DWI on your record. The laws in Texas state that it doesn't matter how long ago your previous arrest was. Regardless of the timeline, further arrests mean more consequences.
You may require SR-22 insurance once your license is restored after a DWI in Texas. It lasts for 3 years and charges much higher premiums.
A DWI in Texas could increase your car and health insurance rates or cause your current provider to drop you as a client.
You may also have to install an IDD or interlock device on your vehicle. It prevents you from starting your car without blowing into it to check your blood alcohol level. You must pay the installation fee and the cost of maintaining it each month.
Having a skilled attorney can help reduce the charges you face regardless of the circumstances of your case. The only way to avoid all the consequences is to not get convicted.
Where Can I Get Defense for a DWI in Texas?
A DWI in Texas is a serious charge, even more serious than the similar DUI charge that focuses on minors driving drunk. Due to its severity and frequency, it also comes with a powerful set of consequences.
The charges you'll face for a DWI increase with each conviction. The jail time, fines, and other consequences continue to grow.
The more you know about what a DWI is and how it's prosecuted, the better you'll be able to defend yourself. You must also get the best possible defense team.