Driving While Intoxicated is a serious offense. In Texas, a first DWI conviction is a Class B misdemeanor, with a jail sentence between 72 hours and six months and a fine of $2,000.00. Community service can also be ordered between 24 hours and 100 hours for a first offense with a suspended driving license up to one year. A second DWI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable with a 30 day to one-year confinement and a $4,000.00 fine. For a second offense, community service cannot exceed 200 hours and driving privileges suspended for up to two years. A third DWI conviction indicates a serious alcohol problem, is a third degree felony, punishable between 2 years to 10 years jail sentence and a fine not to exceed $10,000.00. Community service can be ordered up to 600 hours for a third offense. A person convicted may also have their driving privileges suspended up to two years. Driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15 is a state jail felony.
A first-time DWI results in a $1,000 surcharge, paid annually for three years. A second-time DWI results in a $1,500 surcharge, paid annually for three years. The charges are cumulative. For example, a driver could pay $1,000 as a result of their first DWI and an additional $1,500 for their second DWI, paying a total of $2,500 annually.
You have fifteen days after you are arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in which to request an Administrative License Revocation Hearing (ALR) from the Texas DPS to attempt to preserve your driving privileges. If you fail to request the hearing in fifteen days, the suspension will automatically go into effect on the 40th day after notice was served.
This could be your first encounter with the legal system that could have long-term consequences. The experience can be frightening and confusing as well as the social stigma and the effect it may have on your career. Although attorney’s fees can be expensive, a DWI conviction will cost you a lot of money and will be on your permanent record forever!
Texas law states that a person under the age of 21 commits an offense of DUI (a Class C misdemeanor) if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system. This is a much lower standard than is required to arrest a person for a DWI. A detectable amount means that a minor does not have to have a Blood Alcohol Content level of .08 or higher like with a DWI but can be arrested for simply the smell of alcohol on his or her breath.
When charged with a DUI, that person will be facing a suspension of their driver’s license. The suspension is the same administrative license revocation (ALR) process that is used in DWI cases. There is a 15 day period to request a hearing after being issued a citation or being arrested for a DUI to contest the license suspension.
If this the first offense of this type, the judge may order a 60 day driver’s license suspension; up to a $500 fine; 20 to 40 hours of community service; and/or mandatory attendance of alcohol-awareness classes. If a person does not complete the conditions set out by the judge within the agreed upon time, then his or her driver’s license may be suspended up to six months. If this is not the first time being convicted of a DUI, then the judge may order a fine between $500 and $2,000; 40 to 60 hours of community service, and can be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail.
If the person charged is under the age of 18, the court may require a parent/guardian be present at every court appearance. However, the court may allow an attorney to appear on the minor’s behalf at the court appearances.
Just because a person is under the age of 21 does not mean he or she will automatically be charged with a DUI rather than a DWI. An officer may arrest a minor for the more serious offense of DWI if the circumstances warrant such a charge. If he had a BAC of .08 or greater he could be punished with the same penalties that apply to a DWI: a $2,000 fine, 72 hours to 180 days in jail, and a driver’s license suspension of 90 days to one year.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, you should contact an attorney right away.