I am R. Todd Bennett — a board-certified criminal defense lawyer. I have practiced criminal law in Houston and the surrounding communities for 18 years. I am a straight-shooter, and I firmly believe that if we are going to obtain the best possible result in your DWI case, you need to begin with an understanding of what your legal situation is. Below are the punishment ranges for DWI charges in Texas.
Texas DWI Penalties
- First DWI conviction: A conviction for a first Texas DWI brings a statutory punishment range of three days in jail up to 180 days in jail. If the prosecution proves that you had an open container of alcohol in your immediate possession, Texas law provides that the minimum term of confinement is 6 days in jail. Texas law also provides that a person is eligible for probation upon conviction of DWI if the person has never before been convicted of a felony in Texas or any other state or been placed on probation or community supervision for a felony in Texas or any other state. Generally speaking, upon conviction in a Houston (Harris County) DWI, Rosenberg or Sugarland (Ft. Bend County) DWI, Conroe (Montgomery County) DWI, Galveston (Galveston County) DWI and most of the other surrounding cities and counties, probation is the punishment recommended to the court by the assistant district attorneys who prosecute DWI cases. The terms of DWI probations in Houston and the surrounding area vary. However, DWI probations generally include community service, a DWI education class and a victim impact panel. The period of probation for a DWI conviction is often one year. It can be shorter or be as long as two years. In addition to the above, Texas DWI law includes a fine for those persons convicted of DWI. The DWI fine range is from a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $2,000. A person’s driver’s license will be suspended upon conviction of DWI for a period of 90 days up to one year if the person does not take the DWI education class as a condition of probation.
- Second DWI conviction: A second Texas DWI conviction is classified in the Texas Penal Code as a class A misdemeanor. The punishment range for a second Texas DWI is from 30 days in jail up to one year in jail. Probation is still within the available range of punishment under Texas law. However, DWI probations for repeat offenders are often more onerous than DWI probations for first offenders. On second DWI probations, the judges in Harris County, Ft. Bend County, Montgomery County and Galveston County as well as the other surrounding counties will often increase the number of community service hours required (80 – 200 hours), some jail time may be required as a condition of a second DWI probation (30-day maximum). A deep lung air device will likely be required as a condition of a second DWI probation. These devices are commonly referred to as an ignition interlock device or a “blow and go” machine. The period of probation for a second DWI may be as long as two years. The fine range for a second Texas DWI goes up to $4,000. The person’s driver’s license will be suspended for a period between 180 days up to two years.
- Third DWI conviction: A third DWI in Texas is a felony offense and is prosecuted in District Court. If convicted, the range of punishment is from two years in state prison to 10 years in state prison. The fine ranges up to $10,000. Probation is generally available as a punishment option. If convicted, the sentencing judge has a number of options available to him or her. If a person is placed on probation for a felony DWI in Harris County, Ft. Bend County, Montgomery County or Galveston County, the judges often are concerned about the defendant having a significant alcohol abuse problem and likely will require some type of alcohol treatment as a condition of probation. Jail time as a condition of probation is also a very real possibility.
DWI Collateral/Administrative Penalties
- ALR (Administrative License Revocation): On a first DWI charge, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will attempt to have your driver’s license suspended if you take the breath test after your DWI arrest and fail the breath test. That is, the Intoxilyzer machine produced a reading of .08 or more when you took the breath test. If you refused to take a breath test, the DPS will attempt to have your driver’s license suspended for 180 days. These suspension periods may be longer if you have prior DWI convictions.
- DPS Surcharges: If convicted of DWI of one of the above alcohol related offenses, you also face financial penalties (surcharges) from the DPS of $1,000 per year for three years if you are convicted of a first DWI. This penalty increases to $1,500 per year for a second or a subsequent DWI conviction and $2,000 per year if your breath alcohol content was .16 or higher at the time you took the breath test.
Contact Me Today
Penalties vary greatly for DWI offenses. I am a tough criminal defense attorney, ready to fight for your charges to be dropped or reduced as much as possible. Contact me today to schedule an initial consultation.