The penalties for DWI can be harsh, for sure. The actual penalties will depend on several different factors. What happened in your case? Was somebody inured? How high is the State alleging your blood alcohol concentration was? Do you have any prior convictions for DWI? The potential penalties for DWI can range anywhere from a Class B misdemeanor all the way to a very serious felony if you are dealing with either felony repetition or intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter. Regardless of what charge you are facing, it is important to get your defense going as soon as possible. Aside from the criminal penalties, there are other penalties having to do with your license suspension. The court can also require an interlock device installed in your car. This page is just a guide, but if you call my office, we can have a specific discussion about your case, and penalties you could be facing.
A First Time DWI Will Be Charged as a Misdemeanor
Have you been arrested for DWI in Fort Worth, Arlington, or other part of Tarrant County? Anywhere in Texas, all Counties in Texas, a DWI first can be either a Class ‘B’ misdemeanor or a Class 'A' misdemeanor. Class 'B' misdemeanors carry the following potential range of punishment:
- a fine not to exceed $2,000
- confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days
Please note that these are the possible range of punishment for a conviction. A conviction is what you are fighting right now by searching for relevant answers online. Once again, if you call me I can provide a more detailed roadmap of a DWI charge. Often, for a first DWI, the time you do in jail after your arrest is the only jail time you’ll do. 180 days is the maximum range of punishment. A Class 'A' misdemeanor carries the following range of punishment:
- a fine not to exceed $4,000
- confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year in jail
The length of your driver’s license suspension depends upon the Implied Consent law. If you consent to give a breath or blood test, you get 90 days. If you refuse, you get 180 days.
If a person pleas out their first DWI, many people are faced with the decision of DWI Probation or labor detail. Although probation appears better at the outset, many people that have gone through the process prefer labor detail. Labor detail is faster, and you generally get 2-for-1 credit on days. Depending on what the court gives you, you can knock out labor detail in a few weeks. Probation can drag on for 18 months or more. And while you are on probation, if you get revoked, that means a lot of pain. And a condition of your probation may be that you submit a urine sample. This can put some people at risk of getting in more trouble. Obviously, this is a discussion you will want to have with your attorney.
A Second DWI Charge is a Class ‘A’ Misdemeanor
If your first DWI resulted in a conviction, your Second DWI will be charged as a Class ‘A.’ It doesn’t matter how long ago it was. It doesn’t matter if the conviction was in a different state. A conviction carries the following DWI punishment:
- Between 72 hours and 365 days of jail time
- Minimum 80 hours of community service
- Driver’s License suspension of 2 years (occupational licenses are available)
- Up to two years of probation
If you receive probation, the conditions of your probation are up to the judge. The judge can order you to spend 30 days in jail as a condition of probation.
DWI with a BAC of .15 or higher is a Class ‘A’ Misdemeanor
The penalties increase if your breath or blood test is .15 or higher Even if it is your First Time DWI, you will be charged with a Class ‘A’ misdemeanor. This carries increased penalties and DWI punishment consistent with a DWI second.
DWI with a Child Under 15 in the Car is a State Jail Felony
A conviction for a state jail felony carries the following penalties:
- Between 180 days and 2 years of jail time
- A fine of up to $10,000
- A felony conviction
Sometimes a state jail felony will be enhanced to a third degree felony, meaning stiffer DWI punishment. For instance, the charge will be enhanced when a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime. I have seen prosecutors enhance DWI with child to a third degree on the theory that the car is a deadly weapon.
Third DWI With Two Prior Convictions Means a Third Degree Felony
If you have had two prior DWI convictions, your Third DWI will be charged as a third degree felony. It carries the following DWI punishment:
- Between 2 and 10 years in prison
- Driver’s License Suspension between 180 days and 2 years
- A felony conviction