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Texas DWI Laws and Facts

Want to know more about Texas and Houston DWI laws? Below, you’ll find a brief overview of Texas DWI facts, your rights, and actual excerpts of the DWI law in Texas.

What is DWI in Texas?

DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” Texas law defines intoxication as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; OR (b) having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more.” “Alcohol concentration” means the number of grams of alcohol per: (a) 210 liters of breath; (b) 100 milliliters of blood; or (c) 67 milliliters of urine.

What that means is, in Texas, a person is Driving While Intoxicated when they are operating a motor vehicle in a public place if they have lost the normal use of their mental faculties, physical faculties, or have a alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater.

What must be proven for me to be convicted of DWI in Texas?

The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. For the State to prove you are intoxicated, they must present evidence to show you did not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties. Or that you had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

I was arrested for DWI. Does that make me guilty?

No! Just because an officer brought you in for suspicion of driving while intoxicated doesn’t automatically make you guilty. People are wrongly arrested for DWI all the time. An officer only needs probable cause to make an arrest. A jury must have proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Remember, a DWI arrest is based on an officer’s opinion, and there are two sides to every story. Let us provide a thorough analysis and second opinion of your case to ensure your rights are protected. Jay Cohen is a certified practitioner and instructor of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.

Do I have to tell the officer if I have been drinking in Texas?

You do not have to tell the officer if you have been drinking. You don’t have to tell the officer anything other than your name and date of birth, most of us just hand the officer our drivers license. Once you have done that, you don’t have to tell them anything else and you shouldn’t tell them anything else!

What happens when you get pulled over for DWI in Texas?

Typically a DWI traffic stop will start like a normal traffic stop. The officer will pull you over and ask for your license and registration. You know it’s about to go downhill when the officer asks if you’ve been drinking. That is typically followed by the officer asking you to get out of the car and perform some field sobriety tests.

Do I have to perform the standardized field sobriety tests?

No, you do not have to perform the field sobriety tests. These tests consist of at least three tests. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, or HGN, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand. These are difficult things to do, even more difficult if you have never practiced them and you’re nervous. Performing these tests can make you look drunk even if you haven’t been drinking. You can refuse to do these tests.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer in Texas?

YES! If you are pulled over in Texas and a police officer suspects you are intoxicated, they will ask you to give a breath or blood sample. You can absolutely refuse to consent to a breathalyzer or breath test sample. If you refuse to give a breath sample, the officer may apply for a warrant to take a blood sample. If the officer gets a warrant signed by the judge, don’t fight with them. If there are any issues with the warrant, we will fight those in court. The remedy for a warrant that isn’t valid is the evidence is suppressed. This means any evidence obtained as a result of the invalid warrant cannot be used in trial.

Can I refuse a blood test in Texas?

YES! If a police officer requests a voluntary blood sample in Texas you can refuse to give it to them. Frequently, the police can go to a Judge and get a search warrant for your blood. If the police get a search warrant for your blood, they can use whatever reasonable means necessary to get the blood out of your body. When the police have a search warrant, it is not a good idea to fight them, they have guns and they’re probably going to win.

Can I save my driver’s license from suspension?

Maybe, but you have to act fast. You have just 15 days from the date of your arrest to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing from the Texas Department of Public safety to save your license. That’s why it’s so important that you consult with an experienced DWI lawyer as soon as possible.

When should I hire a Houston DWI lawyer?

Now! You don’t have time to waste after a DWI arrest. Remember, you only have 15 days to request a hearing to save your license. If you miss that deadline, there’s nothing that can be done to fight your license suspension. Click here to schedule your case evaluation today!

What’s wrong with the breathalyzer anyway?

There are a lot of physiological factors that cause breathalyzers to inaccurately measure a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). There are many different types of breathalyzers that use different methods to measure a person’s BAC. Frequently, these devices give a reading that is not an accurate reflection of a person’s BAC.

Will a DWI conviction always be on my record?

Maybe. If you get convicted of DWI, you may be eligible for a nondisclosure. It could even prevent you from getting that dream job. For juveniles accused of DUI, it can prevent you from getting into the college of your choice or participating in extracurricular activities. That’s why it’s so important that you hire a well-qualified Houston DWI lawyer who will fight aggressively to help you beat these charges. Click here to schedule your case evaluation today!

Will I have an ignition interlock or breathalyzer as a bond condition?

The Court will likely require a breathalyzer as a condition of bond if you have a previous DWI conviction. Some Harris County Courts require a breathalyzer while on bond for a first offense DWI. Usually for your first offense a breathalyzer is only required as a condition of bond if there is an accident, or a high breath or blood test.

Can I drive a car without an ignition interlock if I have a bond condition requiring a ignition interlock or breathalyzer?

Yes, Texas Transportation Code Section 521.246 says - A person to whom this section applies may operate a motor vehicle without the installation of an approved ignition interlock device if: (1) the person is required to operate a motor vehicle in the course and scope of the person’s employment; (2) the vehicle is owned by the person’s employer; (3) the employer is not owned or controlled by the person whose driving privilege is restricted; (4) the employer is notified of the driving privilege restriction; and (5) proof of that notification is with the vehicle.

I am on the Keto diet, can this have an impact on my breath test?

Yes! Being on the keto diet, or being in ketosis, can have an impact on your breath test result. Ketosis causes a person’s body to create acetone. Acetone then converts to isopropal alcohol. When isopropyl alcohol is combined with ethyl alcohol, breathalyzers can read the two together and give a falsely elevated reading.

What is the punishment for DWI 1st offense in Texas?

In Texas, a first offense DWI punishment is up to 180 days in the county jail, up to a $2000 fine and potentially a license suspension from 90 days to 1 year.

What is the punishment for a DWI 1st offense with a BAC over 0.15 in Texas?

In Texas, a first offense DWI punishment with a BAC greater than 0.15 is up to 1 year in the county jail, up to a $4000 fine and potentially a license suspension from 90 days to 1 year.

Will my license be suspended if I am convicted of a first offense DWI in Texas?

If you are convicted of a DWI in Texas and it is a first offense, your license is only suspended if the sentence is not probated. So if you are sentenced to probation, your license will usually not be suspended by the Court. However, if you are sentenced to jail time, even if you don’t go to jail and receive credit for time served, your license will be suspended for a period 90 days to 1 year.

What is the punishment for DWI 2nd in Texas?

In Texas, the punishment if you are convicted of a second offense DWI, is up to 1 year in the county jail, up to a $4000 fine and a license suspension from 180 days to 2 years.

Can I expunge a DWI from my record in Texas?

It depends what the outcome was. If the case was dismissed or you were found not guilty at trial, you are eligible for an expunction. Head over to our expunctions page for more information.

How do I seal a DWI conviction from my record?

DWI convictions in Texas can be sealed from your record. A few elements must be met.
1. The petitioner must not have been convicted of any other offense.
2. The breath or blood test results must be below 0.15.
3. There can not be an accident that involved another person.

The filing is called a petition for nondisclosure. Contact Blass Law PLLC today and we can help you through the whole process, quickly.

DWI Punishment & Penalties in Texas

Texas DWI Penalties
Offense Offense Level Maximum Fine Range of confinement License Suspension
First DWI Offense Class B Misdemeanor Up to $2,000 3 days to 180 days in the county jail 90 days to 1 year
DWI with Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) 0.15 or greater Class A Misdemeanor Up to $4,000 3 days to 1 year in the county jail 90 days to 1 year
BWI (Boating While Intoxicated) Class B Misdemeanor Up to $2,000 3 days to 180 days in the county jail 90 days to 1 year
BWI with Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) 0.15 or greater Class A Misdemeanor Up to $4,000 3 days to 1 year in the county jail 90 days to 1 year
First DWI with Open Container Enhancement Class B Misdemeanor Up to $2,000 6 days to 180 days in the county jail 90 days to 1 year
2nd DWI Offense Class A Misdemeanor Up to $4,000 30 days to 1 year in the county jail 180 days to 2 years
BWI 2nd Offense Class A Misdemeanor Up to $4,000 30 days to 365 days in the county jail 180 days to 2 years
3rd DWI Offense 3rd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 years to 10 years in prison 180 days to 2 years
BWI 3rd Offense 3rd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 years to 10 years in prison 180 days to 2 years
3rd or more DWI enhanced with 1 prior felony conviction Punished as a 2nd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 years to 20 years in prison 180 days to 2 years
3rd or more BWI enhanced with 1 prior felony conviction Punished as a 2nd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 years to 20 years in prison 180 days to 2 years
3rd or more DWI with 2 prior felony convictions Enhanced Felony Punishment Up to $10,000 25 years to life in prison 180 days to 2 years
3rd or more BWI enhanced with 2 prior felony convictions Enhanced Felony Punishment Up to $10,000 25 years to life in prison 180 days to 2 years
Intoxication Assault – DWI that results in serious bodily injury (SBI) 3rd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 years to 10 years in prison 180 days to 2 years
Intoxication Manslaughter – DWI that Causes Death 2nd Degree Felony Up to $10,000 2 years to 10 years in prison 180 days to 2 years
DWI with child passenger – Child Younger than 15 Years of Age State Jail Felony Up to $10,000 6 months to 2 years in State Jail 90 days to 2 years

First DWI Offense

  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Jail time of 72 hours to 6 months
  • License suspension of 90 days up to 1 year

First Offense (BAC equal or greater than 0.15)

  • Fines up to $4,000
  • Jail time of 72 hours to 1 year
  • License suspension of 90 days up to 1 year

Second DWI Charge

  • Fines up to $4,000
  • Jail time of 30 days to 1 year
  • License suspension of 6 months to 2 years

Third DWI Offense

  • Fines up to $10,000
  • Jail time of 2 years to 10 years
  • License suspension of 6 months to 2 years

DWI Driving with a Child Passenger (age 15 or younger)

  • Fines up to $10,000
  • State Jail time of 180 days to 2 years