What Are the Penalties for a First DWI Conviction in Texas?

There are times in life where a mistake you make can cause you to suffer longterm setbacks and consequences.

Simply getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated can lead to a life-altering event that you weren't prepared for. Before you know it, your entire world has changed.

Not only do you have to live with the fact that you were arrested for a DWI, but there are also several penalties that come along with it.

If this is your first offense, then you should understand the penalties that come with a first DWI conviction. Here's a guide on all that you need to know.

What Is a DWI?

Most people don't realize that there's a difference between a DUI and a DWI charge

Driving while intoxicated (DWI for short) means that you not only got behind the wheel of a car, but you operated it while being drunk, high, etc.

This rule is in place to ensure that all drivers in the state of Texas are of sound mind and physical state when operating a vehicle. While intoxicated, your body doesn't measure up to those standards.

For those of you that don't know, a DWI is considered and filed as a class B misdemeanor.

Your first-time penalties are costly, but they're aimed to provide correction. This will hopefully force you to think twice before getting behind the wheel intoxicated ever again.

What Are the Penalties of a First Time Offender?

Perhaps you've already been arrested and convicted of a DWI and are looking ahead to what you should expect.

Maybe you're doing some research for a friend that was convicted of one. Whatever the reason, what's done is done. See below for an explanation of the penalties with a first-time DWI conviction.

1. Thousands of Dollars In Fines

As previously mentioned, the fine of a first-time offender is meant to hurt your wallet a bit, but not be detrimental to your livelihood. It serves as a wake-up call, for lack of a better term.

However, those fines are dependent on a few different factors such as your blood alcohol level, who you were driving with, etc.

Because of that, there's no clear way to tell how much your specific case will be. But the maximum amount you'll receive on your first DWI is $2,000.

2. Jail Time

Considering your individual DWI case, you might be looking at serving some jail time if the court feels you need correction.

Again, this lies on a few different factors, but your jail time will range anywhere from 3 days to 180 days depending.

If you're pulled over for a suspected DWI, be as compliant with the legal officers as possible. 

3. License Suspension

This is possibly the penalty of first-time DWI convictions that will affect your daily life the most.

Your license has the potential to be suspended between 90 days to an entire year. Not many people realize how much they rely on their cars until it's taken away.

This means that you'll need someone else to drive you to work, school, activities, social events, etc. Absolutely no driving for up to an entire year.

If there's any good news to be had in this situation, it's that you live in an era where there are several other alternate means of transportation to a car.

Possible Complications of Your Case

While those penalties for first-time offenders are relatively mainstream in Texas, there are a few factors that can complicate things.

Hopefully, none of these apply to your situation. But, if they do, you should educate yourself on what to expect.

1. Intoxication Manslaughter

If someone died due to a car accident or collision as you were driving while intoxicated, it is automatically categorized as a second-degree felony.

That can result in jail time that's between 2 to 20 years in state prison, as well as a fine that could very well exceed over $12,000.

If there's any connection to someone passing away, and an accident from your intoxication, you could be on the hook for manslaughter.

2. Intoxication Assault

Unfortunately, there are several instances each year in which intoxication led to the injury of someone else. 

When that happens, it's chalked up as an intoxication assault and is categorized as a third-degree felony in the state of Texas.

The penalty for this is jail time ranging from 2 to 10 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

3. Driving While Intoxicated with a Minor 

The simple fact of having a minor in your car while you were driving intoxicated can escalate things rather quickly.

It doesn't matter if it was your first-time offense or not, if you had a minor passenger in the car, you will be charged with a felony.

That means anywhere between 180 days to 2 years in state prison and a maximum of $10,000 in fines.

4. Testing .15 or Higher

This is an instance that happens far too often with first-time DWI convictions. The blood alcohol test they submitted comes back with a concentration of .15 or higher.

Whether first offense or not, your situation will be categorized as a class A misdemeanor.

That means a maximum of $4,000 fine, as well as up to 1 year in jail. You may also have your license suspended and when you get it back, you'll be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in your car.

First DWI Conviction? Get Expertise On Your Side

If you're going through your first DWI conviction, you don't have to go it alone. Seek out experience and know-how to represent your case.

Be sure to read this article for more information on the arrest process and what you can expect.

For more inquiries, please call the number at the top of our about us page and we'll be happy to assist you further.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.