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All Possible Consequences of a DWI in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

All Possible Consequences of a DWI in Texas

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Drugs and alcohol don’t mix with driving in Texas. In this post, we assemble all possible consequences of a DWI in Texas. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is synonymous with drunk driving in Texas. A DWI conviction has serious consequences.

The state tests the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to learn if he or she is too intoxicated to drive a motor vehicle:

  • BAC limits for drivers younger than 21 years old: any amount
  • BAC limits for drivers 21 years or older: 0.08 percent
  • BAC limits for commercial drivers: 0.04 percent

Have you been arrested for a DWI in Harris County? You need a defense attorney you can trust. Greg Tsioros provides aggressive representation and is prepared to fight for your rights. Contact his office today for a consultation.

BAC levels are affected by the amount of alcohol consumed, body weight or gender. Most DWI offenses are determined by the driver’s BAC when driving a vehicle and several other scenarios. An officer may arrest a driver in Texas for other offenses involving alcohol when he or she gets behind the wheel.

An experienced DWI defense attorney works to reduce the legal consequences of a DWI charge. If you or someone you care about is facing a DWI charge, contact a knowledgeable DWI lawyer now to protect your rights.

Texas Alcohol and Drug Crimes

Drunk driving or driving while intoxicated is described by Texas Penal Code Title 10, Chapter 49. Intoxicated is described in two ways:

  • Driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher (or any detectable amount if the driver is less than age 21; or 0.04 percent for commercial drivers), and/or
  • Driving without the normal use of mental or physical facilities as a result of using drugs or alcohol

Intoxication Evidence

A law enforcement officer may use various methods to collect evidence of impairment and intoxication, including measurements of breath, blood, and urine to test the driver’s BAC. If BAC is higher than the legal limit, it’s unnecessary for the law enforcement officer to accuse the driver of DWI in Texas. A BAC level above the legal limit is considered probable cause that the driver is intoxicated. The officer has the right to arrest in that case.

In addition, the officer makes observations to determine intoxication, including driver appearance, behavior, performance on field sobriety tests, and odor of alcohol.

DWI Penalty Overview

The number of convictions and offense level are used to determine maximum fines, license suspension, and jail sentences:

  • If convicted for a first DWI or boating while intoxicated (BWI), the offense level is a Class B misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $2,000, a jail sentence from 72 hours to six months, and a license suspension term of 90 days to one year.
  • If convicted of a first DWI/BWI with BAC levels at/above 0.15, the offense level is a Class A misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $4,000, a jail sentence from 72 hours to one year in jail, and a license suspension term of 90 days to one year.
  • If convicted of a first DWI with open container enhancement, the offense level is a Class B misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $2,000, a jail sentence from six to 180 days, and a license suspension term of 90 days to one year.

Greater penalties apply for second, third, or more DWI/BWI convictions:

  • A second DWI/BWI offense level is a Class A misdemeanor carrying maximum fines of $4,000, a jail sentence from 30 days to one year, and a license suspension from 180 days to two years.
  • A third DWI/BWI offense level is a third-degree felony carrying maximum fines of $10,000 and two to 10 years in prison, and a license suspension of 180 days to two years.
  • A third (or more) DWI/BWI conviction in which the offender has two prior penitentiary terms involves enhanced felony punishments carrying fines of up to $10,000 and 25 years to life in prison and a license suspension of up to two years.
  • An Intoxication Assault, a DWI causing serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony carrying fines up to $10,000, two to 10 years in prison, and a license suspension of 180 days to two years.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter, a DWI causing death, is a second-degree felony carrying fines up to $10,000, two to 10 years in prison, and a license suspension of 180 days to two years.
  • DWI with a child passenger (a passenger younger than 15 years of age) is a state jail felony carrying a maximum fine of $10,000, six months to two years in state jail, and a license suspension of 90 days to two years.

Minors and DWI Penalties

Under Texas law, a driver less than 21 years old is considered a minor. A minor is prohibited from operating any motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system.

A first offense carries the possible loss of driving privileges, mandatory alcohol education class, faces, community service hours, and install of an ignition interlock device if the driver retains his or her driver’s license.

• Each subsequent offense increases penalties. Minors can serve jail time in Texas.

A knowledgeable Texas DUI/DWI defense attorney may be able to minimize or mitigate penalties and possible long-term consequences of conviction.

DWI and Injuries to Others

Texas statutes define some DWI crimes that include the risk of injury or bodily injury to others. Intoxication manslaughter, intoxication assault, and DWI with a child passenger (under 15 years of age) carry serious consequences.

Enhanced offenses, such as injuring emergency medical personnel, firefighters or peace officers, or causing a victim to suffer a traumatic brain injury resulting in a “persistent vegetative state” are prosecuted under other sections of the law in Texas.

Texas DWI Probation

Probation is a type of agreement between an offender and the judge presiding over the case. The judge may agree to allow the offender to perform specific actions—or ask the offender to agree not to perform other actions–during a certain period of time. This time is referred to as the probation period.

If this is the offender’s first offense, probation may span up to two years. In many instances, if the offender has no prior convictions, the judge may agree to suspend the jail sentence and place him or her in community supervision (probation) for at least six months to a year. During probation, the offender:

  • Reports to an assigned probation officer
  • Pays monthly probation costs, fines, and court fees
  • Performs community service (24-80 hours’ duration)
  • Attends an authorized DWI education class
  • Attends a VIP (Victim Impact Panel)
  • Receives alcohol and drug evaluations
  • Submits to random urinalysis tests
  • Maintains employment and continues to support his or her dependents

Probation also includes specific things the offender can’t do, including:

  • Violate local, state, and federal laws
  • Associate with criminals or others of a “questionable moral character”
  • Consume drugs and alcohol
  • Spend time in clubs, lounges, and bars

If the offender receives another DWI conviction, chances of having to serve the full jail term increase. Texas law requires a 72-hour period of continuous confinement in a second DWI. At the judge’s option, it is possible to suspend the remainder of the jail sentence and place the offender on probation. In a third DWI conviction (a felony conviction), the offender is required to serve 10 days in a county jail.

If convicted of intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault, the offender must fulfill a community service term of 240 to 800 hours, a jail sentence of at least 120 days, and participate in drug abuse or alcohol treatment programs as an outpatient or in-patient.

As you can see, a DWI/DUI or BWI conviction is a serious matter. Probation may be an option.

Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing

A person operating a motor vehicle in Texas is automatically subject to the state implied consent rule: Holding a driver’s license and operating a motorized vehicle includes the operator’s consent to chemical tests if he or she is suspected of operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Because of implied consent, the operator can lose his or her driver’s license by refusal to submit to testing. Unfortunately, license suspension penalties (in that case) are separate from a criminal DWI case that may also result in driver’s license suspension periods of at least 90 days up to two years.

The driver who refuses to submit to testing doesn’t lose the driver’s license on the spot. After refusing to take any test, the driver has 15 days to ask for the arrangement of an administrative hearing about the license suspension. However, if the driver doesn’t request the hearing, automatic driver’s license suspension starts 40 days from the date of refusal.

When to Hire an Experienced DWI Attorney

Hire an experienced DWI attorney right away.

The decision to hire an experienced DWI attorney is a prudent decision—a DWI charge in Texas is an extraordinarily serious matter that may result in serious legal plus collateral consequences. It’s always best to engage a skillful defense lawyer as soon as possible after a DWI arrest. That’s because the sooner the attorney becomes engaged in the case, the better the outcome of the case may be.

A criminal defense attorney ensures the request of an administrative hearing to challenge suspension of the driver’s license, communicates with offices on the court, negotiates agreements, and may have the case dropped or dismissed against the offender.

Before choosing a DUI/DWI defense attorney, answer:

  • Does the attorney have extensive experience in handling DWI cases in Texas?
  • Has the attorney obtained favorable outcomes for other clients?
  • Does the attorney believe that a favorable outcome in possible in this case?

Criminal defense attorney Greg Tsioros brings deep experience to each of his clients. As a former Assistant District Attorney of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, he knows how to defense your case. To receive a complimentary consultation of your matter, contact Greg Tsioros now at 832-752-5972. We’re here to receive your call 24/7.

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