DWI Ranges of Punishment

If you are among the many drivers out there who have recently received a citation for DWI, there are several things you need to know about DWI punishments in Texas. Here is not an exhaustive list, but it covers some of the more important points:

  1. You need to request an administrative hearing within 15 days. If you do not do this, your license is automatically going to be suspended. Even if you gave blood, you should still get that hearing requested out of an abundance of caution. Blood results take a lot longer to come back, but the risk of losing your license is still there.

  2. An important thing to note is that deferred adjudication is no longer available in Texas for DWI’s, only probation and community supervision. This stinks for people who got their first DWI.

*Many people ask this question, and the unfortunate answer is that it is simply not an option.

What Are the Ranges of Punishment for a First DWI Conviction?
  1. First DWI convictions in Texas come with a wide range of punishments, including confinement in county jail, community service, probation, suspension of your license, etc..

  2. A first DWI conviction, it is usually a Class B Misdemeanor.
    1. Class B Misdemeanors carry with it up 6 months in jail, up to a $2,000 fine, and required community service of no less than 24 hours, but no more than 100 hours.

    2. Even though there is the potential for jail time, the usual sentence is probation for a period of 12-18 months, but can be up to 2 years. They also usually fine you around a $1,000 but it can be up to $2,000.

    3. Another thing that stinks about DWI convictions are the surcharge fees that you will be required to pay yearly to the state. These usually range from $1,000-$2,000 per year.

  3. If you are given community supervision or probation, there will be stipulations and requirements that you will be required to follow.
    1. You will be required to submit to drug and alcohol evaluation to see if you have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse and the likelihood that you will be a repeat DWI offender.

    2. You will be required to find suitable employment, stay at the same residence, report monthly to the supervision office and pay any fines and costs in a timely manner.

    3. Any changes in employment, residence, etc… will need to be reported to your supervision office.

    4. This goes without saying, but you need to commit no further crimes. If you do, the state will likely move to revoke your probation and send you to jail.

    5. There is a monthly supervision fee that you will be required to pay.

    6. They may also require that you place an interlock ignition device in your car. This device requires a breath sample before you can start your car.

    7. Based on the drugs and alcohol evaluation, you may be required to attend alcohol or drug treatment.

    8. Most courts are going to say that you cannot have any alcohol during probation.

    9. If you have prior drug or alcohol offenses, these may enhance the penalties assessed against you. These penalties will likely be jail time and a higher fine. It may also move the classification from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A or felony depending on the prior offense. Prior offense could be other drug and alcohol convictions.

  4. If you have a blood alcohol level greater than .15 that is shown by either breath test or blood test, then you will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor which carries the penalties associated with a DWI, second.

  5. It all depends on the county in which you are charged, but most likely you will not have jail time for a first DWI offense. Probation is still the likely outcome. It is not usually in your best interest to go to trial because jail time becomes a greater possibility. In most instances, the District Attorney will have already offered probation prior to trial in the form of a plea deal.
  6. *If you accept a plea agreement, then you will be subject to the terms of the plea agreement and the terms of the probation in order to keep yourself from serving any jail time.

  7. Some people prefer jail time to probation. It is possible to get an alternative recommendation from the prosecutor in such cases. If you want to serve 30 days, etc… as opposed to jail time, this is definitely something that can be arranged. However, as an attorney, seeking jail time, or even looking for a plea deal is not something that you need to be focused on. An attorney should be fighting to get you free of the charges, not getting you to take the best deal possible. If that is your plan, or your attorney’s plan, then you need a new lawyer.
What Are the Ranges of Punishment for a Second DWI Offense?
  1. Second DWI offenses are a more serious offense and District Attorney’s pursue them even more stringently than a first DWI.

  2. DWI 2nd are a Class A Misdemeanor that carries up to 1 year in county jail, no less than 80 hours, but not more than 200 hours of community service.

  3. Your license may be suspended for not less than 180 days, but no more than 2 years.

  4. Texas requires the Court to order a condition of release from jail a deep lung air device to be installed in the car of anyone who is drive while their charges are pending. The device acts very similarly to the ignition interlock system that requires a sample of breath before the car will start. The deep air lung device will also require periodic breaths during drive to insure sobriety. These devices are now user-sensitive, which means that someone other than the driver cannot blow into the device to pass for the driver.
What Are the Ranges of Punishment for a DWI Third Offense?
  1. This is a third degree felony charge

  2. Jail time is typically no less than 2 years in jail and not more than years.

  3. Deep air lung device will be required as a condition of release on bond while charges are pending.

  4. Community service requirement jumps to 160 hours but not more than 600 hours.

  5. Your license may be suspended for between 180 days and 2 years.

  6. Alcohol and drug treatment are going to be required. A third offense is usually an indicator to the court that you have a problem, and new rehabilitative efforts will mean the court will require treatment. This will happen regardless of whether prison time is adjudicated. There is an incarceration program for alcohol treatment (Substance Abuse Felony Probation) that is available in some cases. If you complete that program then you can be released on probation. The probation cannot be for more than 10 years.

  7. The SAFP program is only available in limited circumstances and therefore it should not be assumed that if you get your third or fourth DWI that you will be eligible. More likely than not it will not be available to you.
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