What is DWI?

DWI is a criminal offense which prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle in a public place while “intoxicated.” The DWI statute does not require the person to be “drunk.” Rather, it only requires that they be “intoxicated,” which is defined as having lost the normal use of either mental or physical faculties OR having a .08 alcohol level in either their breath, blood or urine. The loss of normal mental or physical faculties must be caused by alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance.

What is DUI?

Before 1983, DUI meant driving under the influence of drugs or narcotics, but now it only pertains to minors. In Texas, it is never permissible for minors to have any alcohol in their body and drive. A DUI charge does not require proof of impairment. Rather it only requires a showing that there was a detectable amount of alcohol in their body.

What are the penalties for DWI?

Most DWI convictions result in probated sentences. Probation means that if you receive a penalty of confinement, that you won’t be confined in a county jail; state jail or state penitentiary. You usually have to pay a fine; and suspension of your driver’s license suspension by the court. There are usually other terms and conditions of probation, which you can read here.

Texas DWI penalties are usually:

  • First-Offense conviction will less than a .15 BAC includes the possibility of a fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or a county jail sentence from 3 to 180 days, and a driver’s license suspension of 90 to 365 days. (Class B Misdemeanor). Where, however, there is a BAC .15 or more, the possibility of a fine increases to $4,000 and jail increases to one year (Class A misdemeanor).
  • Second Offense means the maximum fine increases to no more than $4,000 and/or county jail from 30 days to one year, and a possible driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to 2 years (Class A Misdemeanor).
  • A Third Offense, you may receive a fine up to $10,000 and/or 2 to 10 years of State imprisonment, and suspension of your driver’s license ranging from 180 days up to 2 years (3rd Degree Felony).

Other Possible Penalties:

  • Presence of an Open Container: This increases the minimum jail penalty to six days in jail.
  • Intoxication Assault: This occurs when thereis an accident occurred with serious bodily injury resulted when intoxication is the main cause. If you’re convicted, you can be sentenced to a minimum of two years and up to a maximum of 10 years in prison. If a probated sentence is received, there is a 30 day minimum jail sentence. Additionally, you may be fined up to $10,000 (3rd Degree Felony). (Additionally, if the vehicle was driven in such a way that rendered it a “deadly weapon”, then there is an additional penalty that prohibits good time credit in prison to be considered for early release until half of the sentence has been satisfied.)
  • Intoxication Manslaughter: This occurs when, due to DWI offense, a death occurs in an accident and where the intoxication was the main cause of the death. Upon conviction, you can be sentenced to pay a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or be imprisoned from two to 20 years (2nd Degree Felony). Where probation is granted, you still must serve 120 days in county jail. (Additionally, if the vehicle was driven in such a way that rendered it a “deadly weapon”, then there is an additional penalty that prohibits good time credit in prison to be considered for early release until half of the sentence has been satisfied.)
  • Presence of a Child Passenger: This occurs when a person commits DWI and there is another person in the vehicle who is under 15 years of age. Punishment is by confinement in a state jail facility up to two years, but not less than 180 days and a fine not to exceed $10,000.00 (State Jail Felony).