Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in Texas and is handled by the district attorney in the county of arrest. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), drivers convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can face up to a $2,000 fine for their first offense and a state fine of up to $6,000. In addition, you may face jail time between 3 and 180 days and have your driver’s license suspended for up to a year.
If you have been convicted of a DWI for the first time, the circumstances of the incident can affect the amount of your fines and other penalties. A criminal defense attorney from our firm will review the evidence and advise of the circumstances that can affect your DWI case and associated penalties.
Legal Intoxication Limits in Texas
In Texas, a motor vehicle operator is considered legally intoxicated if the concentration of alcohol in their blood, urine, or breath is greater than 0.08. However, you can be charged for DWI whenever a police officer decides they want to arrest you. Legally, you are considered intoxicated when you have lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol, prescription medication, or illegal drugs.
If a police officer stops you on suspicion of DWI, they will typically conduct a series of standardized field sobriety tests. The efficacy and validity of these tests are questionable, and many people fail simply because they are nervous. However, these tests can be used to establish probable cause to place you in custody and conduct blood, urine, or breath tests.
Even if test results show that you were over the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, you need a lawyer who knows the science behind breath and blood testing to defend your case in court. Contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights in a first-offense DWI case.
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Prior DWI Offenses Matter
Texas Penal Code § 49 guides first, second, and third DWI offenses. Each subsequent offense has correspondingly serious penalties, including longer jail time, higher fines, and more serious criminal charges.
While most first offenses for DWI are considered a Class B misdemeanor, the classification can be increased to a Class A misdemeanor or a felony if you were previously convicted of DWI. Fines increase with each subsequent offense, with a maximum of $4,000 for a second offense and $10,000 for a third offense. These do not include state fines ranging from $3,000 to $6,000.
When DWI Accidents Cause Injury or Death
Your potential punishment will also be affected by the circumstances surrounding your DWI. For example, if you were pulled over for DWI for a traffic stop, your penalties will likely be less than if you were in an accident that caused someone’s injury or death.
If you were in an accident while driving intoxicated and someone were injured or killed in that accident, you would face higher fines, longer jail time, and a greater license suspension period. You could also face felony charges for injury, murder, or manslaughter if you injured or killed someone in the accident.
An attorney familiar with DWI law in Texas can examine your case and help you decide how to proceed.
DWI With a Child Passenger
If you were DWI and a child under 15 was in the vehicle, you can be charged with a state jail felony. Your corresponding fines and penalties will likely be more severe than if you were driving intoxicated without a child passenger. Fines for DWI with a child passenger can be as high as $10,000, and you could be jailed for up to two years.
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You Have a Legal Right to Representation in Your DWI Case
Per the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to a fair trial and the assistance of legal counsel for your defense. Therefore, contact an attorney to protect your rights if you have been arrested for DWI.
A criminal defense attorney will know how to establish an effective defense. We will use scientific, photographic and video evidence to determine whether the police who arrested you followed appropriate protocols, including reading your Miranda rights and possibly coercing you into making statements. In addition, we will examine the results of your BAC or breath tests to determine whether they are accurate and admissible as evidence. We know the science behind these tests better than the lab analysts so we can defend you when the state claims you are above the legal limit.
No matter how complex your case, you deserve to have a lawyer who knows the science in a court of law. Do not hesitate to contact a DWI attorney if you have been arrested or charged with DWI.
Speak With a Texas DWI Lawyer About Your Case Today
Blass Law has years of experience defending DWI cases across Texas. We understand the complexities of Texas law and know how to protect your right to a fair trial effectively.
Contact us today to discuss the potential fines you could receive for your first offense DWI charge.