Driving while intoxicated remains a criminal offense in Texas, so those who get behind the wheel and drive under the influence might end up pulled over. A subsequent day in court could be one that comes with harsh penalties. What type of penalties might a driver expect in the Lone Star State for a DWI?
Texas and driving while intoxicated statutes
A DWI in Texas may yield Class B or A misdemeanor charges. Felony DWI charges remain a possibility in some instances.
A person faces DWI charges when he or she has a BAC of 0.08, or the individual suffers mental or physical impairment from alcohol or drugs. As a result, someone may have a BAC of only 0.07, but his or her behavior behind the wheel may be sufficient for charges and convictions.
A first-time offender faces Class B misdemeanor charges, and those charges come with fines of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. When a person’s BAC is at 0.15 or above, they can expect a Class A offense. A second offense also brings a Class A misdemeanor and a maximum fine of $4,000 and up to one year in jail.
Felony DWI charges in Texas
Third- and fourth-time offenders may face felony DWI charges. Besides the prison time on a third offense being a potential 2 to 10 years, the fine could be upwards of $10,000. Fourth offenses see the penalties rise to a $20,000 maximum fine along with a 10-year prison time maximum. In incidents involving a child passenger under the age of 15, the DWI becomes a felony with a possible jail time of 180 days to 2 years.
In addition to fines and jail time, someone arrested for a DWI could face other potential penalties. License suspensions, added license fees, community service hours, interlock device requirements and treatment programs are possible penalties.
Of course, being arrested for a DWI does not mean an automatic conviction. A DWI defense strategy may be able to prove someone’s innocence. Even those convicted might not face the maximum penalty if an attorney is able to argue for the lower end of a fine or jail sentence.