What's a DWI? 10 Things to Know If You Get One
If you’ve received a DWI in Texas, you’ll want to read this.
According to the Texas DOT, a person is considered intoxicated with a .08 BAC. However, you could be considered intoxicated if you’re impaired, regardless of BAC. Punishment for this offense depends on the number of previous convictions.
You have questions, and we have the answers. If you’re wondering what’s a DWI exactly, keep reading. Here are ten things to know if you get one.
What’s a DWI in Texas?
You don’t have to be drunk to receive a DWI in Texas. According to the Houston Police, their DWI task force focuses on stopping a person who's intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. This means if you’re impaired from alcohol, a controlled substance, drugs, a combination of substances, or have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, you can be arrested for a DWI.
DWIs result in numerous consequences and fines. You may even be required to undergo education, therapy, or a treatment program.
1. First Offense Can Result in Fines and More
Your first offense can result in a fine up to $2k. Depending on the judge and circumstances, you may also face 3 to 180 days in jail. To retain your license, you could be ordered to pay an annual fee of $1k or $2k for three years.
A lawyer might be able to assist you in reducing charges for a first offense, but not always.
2. Second Offense is Punishable With Jail
Your second offense can land you in jail for one month to one year. Also, you could be ordered to pay up to $4k in fines. That fine doesn’t include the annual fee of $1k, $1.5k, or $2k for three years to retain your license.
Once you’ve been charged for a second offense, you could face additional charges and fines.
3. The Third Offense Can Send You to Prison
Your third offense will send you to prison for two to ten years. Along with your sentence, you could be ordered to pay $10k in fines. Like the second offense, you can expect to pay an annual fee of $1k, $1.5k, or $2k for three years to retain your license.
If you’re arrested for a DWI after a third offense, you’ll likely end up in prison for longer sentences.
4. There Are Additional Consequences
If you’ve been arrested for two or more DWIs within five years, you can expect additional consequences. For instance, you’ll be required to install a special ignition switch that’ll prevent your vehicle from being operated while intoxicated. If you have an open container in a moving vehicle, you could be fined up to $500, even if you’re a passenger.
If you refused to take a blood or breath test, you can count on your license automatically being suspended for 180 days.
5. Driving Impaired With Children Can Result in Child Endangerment Charges
Driving with children while impaired can result in more charges. You could be charged with child endangerment if you're carrying passengers younger than fifteen. A DWI charge with a child passenger is punishable by a fine of up to $10k, up to two years in jail, and more.
This can have a lasting effect on the children with you, and haunt them for their life.
6. Your Car Insurance Rate Could Go Up
Don’t be surprised if your car insurance rate goes up after being charged with a DWI. You'll be considered a "high-risk driver" and may have to shop around for new car insurance. Your current insurance company might drop you after your conviction.
Your DWI conviction could affect your life insurance too. That said, not all insurance companies treat convictions equally. If this was your first offense, your payments could rise slightly.
7. You’ll Most Likely Lose Your License
Your first offense can result in losing your license for up to one year. Further convictions can lead to losing your license for up to two years. If you had children in your vehicle when charged, you can expect to lose your license for 180 days.
When you lose your license, you can attend a treatment program to get it back. If you’re caught driving without a license after a DWI, you can expect further charges and possible sentencing.
8. A DWI Could Haunt You
A DWI can haunt you for years. Once the conviction’s official, it’ll remain on your record and could show up on background checks run by employers and others. This might hurt your chances of obtaining a career you desire.
If this is your second or third DWI, your sentencing will likely be affected and can haunt you for even longer than you expect.
9. A Lawyer Can Help
You don’t necessarily need an attorney to accompany you to your arraignment, but you’ll want one’s assistance moving forward. An attorney will help you decide if you should seek a plea bargain, or plead guilty or innocent. A plea bargain can reduce first offense charges to reckless driving or something similar.
You can contact a lawyer for legal advice about your specific case.
10. How You Can Stay Safe in the Future
Driving while impaired is dangerous for you and society. Instead of getting behind the wheel and risk a DWI or worse, consider the following options:
- Designate a DD before going out
- Call a taxi or other car service
- Take public transportation
- Spend the night, if possible
There are too many ways to risk the dangers of another DWI conviction. Protect yourself and others by finding a safer method.
Now that you’ve learned what’s a DWI in Texas and ten things you should know if you get one, it’s time to take the next step forward with your life. This law is meant to better protect you and society from harm. Don’t risk another conviction and worse consequences, drive responsibly.
You can explore our blog for more legal topics that’ll help you attain a better outcome for your situation.