Texas DWI: What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
Facing the Penalties
If you’ve been arrested for a DWI in Texas, you face many life-altering consequences. If you’re thinking, “what’s the worst that can happen?” you are being sensible. The best thing you can do when facing any criminal charge is to find out what penalties the court could impose, so you can make informed decisions about how to handle your case. And when it comes to DWI charges in Texas, those penalties can be severe. Let’s take a look.
DWI in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties imposed for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) conviction in Texas include:
- A fine of up to $2,000
- Between three and 180 days in jail
- A driver’s license suspension of between 90 and 365 days, and
- A surcharge fee of $1,000 to maintain your license (assessed annually for three years)
This range of court-imposed penalties is for a first offense with no aggravating circumstances. The penalties increase significantly if:
- You have a prior DWI conviction
- Your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was equal to or greater than .15
- You had an open container of alcohol in the car
- You caused an accident or property damage
- You injured or killed someone
- You had a child passenger with you while driving
A Note on Probation
Some defendants may receive probation instead of a full sentence. But beware because probation is costly. The terms of a standard Texas DWI probation may include:
- Commit no other crimes
- Payment of all fines and court costs (fines generally run around $1,000 and court costs are around $450, but payment schedules are allowed)
- Report to probation once a month for 18 to 24 months
- Pay $60 a month in probation fees ($60 x 18 = $1,080)
- Take a 12-hour DWI education program ($150)
- Attend a MADD Victim Impact Panel (VIP)($50)
- Take a drug and alcohol evaluation ($150)
- 24 to 40 hours of community service restitution ($50)
- Pay $25 to Crime Stoppers
- Do not leave the state without permission
- Do not spend the night outside of Dallas County
- Do not move (relocate) without court permission
- Submit to periodic drug testing (about $35 per test)
- Consume no alcohol
- Keep an interlock device in your vehicle ($80 per month), and
- Have a SCRAM device on your leg ($360 a month!)
We typically do not recommend that someone take probation for a first-time DWI because the total costs can run about $4500. Also, there is little benefit with regard to a person’s record; probation and jail time are both considered criminal convictions in Texas.
Texas DWI penalties can be severe. The good news is juries give many first-time offenders reduced sentences. In some cases, the jury will give someone the minimum punishment possible which may be either 72 hours in jail or 0 days in jail depending on the charge.
This sounds counterintuitive to what you might have heard, right? For this reason, you should always consult with a seasoned Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney when facing DWI charges. We’ve represented clients who have completed a short jail sentence and probation. Guess what they tell us? If they had it to do over again, they would take the short jail sentence so that the case is finished instead of spending 12-24 months of their life under the government’s thumb, jumping through a bunch of hoops. The sooner you involve an attorney, the better your chance of minimizing your punishment. Plus, by going to trial on the case you may be found not guilty which means there is no punishment and you can immediately remove the arrest and charge from your record. That’s the outcome you really want!
If you’re facing DWI charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.