Driving While Intoxicated
Driving while Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in Texas that can have profound legal and personal consequences. The State does not need to prove a person who commits this offense did so with the intent to commit “Driving While Intoxicated”. To better understand this offense and its potential penalties, it is crucial to delve into the intricacies of DWI laws in the Lone Star State.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Texas: What It Entails
DWI, in the context of Texas law, refers to operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. “Intoxicated” means 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 having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. This offense encompasses both alcohol-related impairment and impairment caused by controlled substances or prescription medications. Texas imposes stringent DWI laws to deter individuals from engaging in such behavior.
Many people on a jury panel have at one time had an alcoholic drink or two out at dinner and then they drove home. It is not illegal to drink, then drive. It IS illegal to drink to the point of intoxication and then operate a motor vehicle in a public place.
Penalties for DWI in Texas
The penalties for a DWI conviction in Texas are severe and can escalate based on various factors, including prior convictions, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels, and whether the offense resulted in accidents or injuries. Here is an overview of the potential penalties:
- First DWI Offense: A first-time DWI offense is typically classified as a Class B misdemeanor, carrying penalties that may include a fine of up to $2,000, a jail sentence of up to 180 days, and a driver’s license suspension of up to one year.
- Second DWI Offense: A second DWI offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor, with penalties such as a fine of up to $4,000, a jail term of up to one year, and a driver’s license suspension of up to two years.
- Third DWI Offense: A third DWI offense is a third-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years, and a driver’s license suspension of up to two years.
- Enhancements: Enhanced penalties may apply if the BAC is significantly above the legal limit (0.15% or higher), if there are open containers of alcohol in the vehicle, or if the DWI offense causes accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities.
- Probation and Ignition Interlock Devices: In some cases, probation and mandatory ignition interlock devices may be required as part of the sentence.
- License Suspension: Your license may or may not be suspended with this offense. Depending on the level of the DWI and what punishment, if any, is assessed, could affect your driver’s license. A first DWI offense for an adult over 21 years of age will not have any additional DL suspension as a result of the conviction, if, for example, the person is given a community supervision with certain DWI classes. There are DL ramifications that arise merely because a person was arrested and charged with DWI
Given the severity of DWI penalties in Texas, it is imperative to secure the services of a skilled and experienced criminal attorney. You have the option of choosing a lawyer Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
DWI charges in Texas are serious matters with significant legal and personal implications. To protect your rights and mount an effective defense, it is imperative to secure the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. With their expertise, you can navigate the complexities of the legal system, work toward achieving the best possible outcome for your case, and attempt to minimize the life-altering consequences of these charges. Don’t hesitate to consult with David Smith– a Board Certified, Criminal Law — Texas Legal Specialization lawyer, for a free consultation when facing assault-related allegations.