DWI Punishment under Texas Law

If you have been arrested for DWI or DUI in Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, you are facing a very serious criminal offense that carries with it the prospect of jail time, increased insurance premiums and a permanent stain upon your criminal record. Below are answers to some of the most common questions people ask us about punishment for different types of DWI charges in the state of Texas. If you are charged with drunk driving, we strongly urge you to hire an experienced DWI defense attorney.

What Happens if I am Convicted of DWI (1st offense)?

If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI (1st offense) in Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas law provides that you could face anywhere from 3 days to 180 days in Tarrant County jail, large fines, court costs and the suspension of your Texas driver’s license for a period of time ranging from 90 days to 1 year.

Additionally, if you receive community supervision (probation) in Tarrant County for your DWI (1st offense), you could be required to complete the following (at your own expense): numerous DWI classes (Alcohol/Drug evaluation, DWI education program, Victim Impact Panel, etc.), a large amount of community service hours, a license suspension for a period of time ranging from 90 days to 1 year and if you agreed to submit a DWI breath or blood sample and it was determined that your blood alcohol level was greater than .15, the judge MUST order you to obtain an ignition interlock device on your vehicle as a condition of your community service (probation).

Finally, if you were arrested and charged with a DWI (1st offense) in Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County and you were found to have an open container at the time of your arrest, Texas law provides that you could face anywhere from 6 days to 180 days in Tarrant County jail.

What Happens if I am Convicted of a DUI (1st offense as a minor – under 21 years of age)?

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI (1st offense) in Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield or the surrounding cities in Tarrant County, Texas law provides that will be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to a $500 fine but does not impose a jail sentence upon conviction.

However, if you or your minor child receives community supervision (probation), not only must you or your minor child complete all the standard conditions of a DWI probation, you will also receive a driver’s license suspension that will become effective at the beginning of the community supervision (probation) period. Finally, the court will require you to install and use an ignition interlock device on your vehicle during the term of your community supervision (probation).

What Happens if I am Convicted of a DWI – Misdemeanor Repetition (DWI 2nd)?

If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI (2nd offense) in Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas law provides that you could face anywhere from 30 days to 1 year in Tarrant County jail, large fines, court costs and the suspension of your Texas driver’s license for a period of time ranging from 180 days to 2 years. Also, if your DWI 2nd was committed within 5 years of your DWI (1st offense), your driver’s license can be suspended for a period of time ranging from 1 year to 2 years.

If you receive community supervision (probation) in Tarrant County for your DWI 2nd, you will be required to complete all of the probation conditions of a DWI (1st offense) as well as the following: a minimum of 3 days to 5 days in jail as a condition of your probation, a court-ordered ignition interlock device will be installed and monitored on your vehicle (at your expense) and you will be required to complete a program for repeat DWI offenders.

What Happens if I am Convicted of a Felony DWI (DWI 3rd or more)?

If you have been arrested and charged with a Felony DWI in Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas law provides that you could face anywhere from 2 years to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections (prison), large fines, court costs and the suspension of your Texas driver’s license for a period of time ranging from 180 days to 2 year. Also, if your Felony DWI was committed within 5 years of your DWI (1st or 2nd offense), your driver’s license can be suspended for a period of time ranging from 1 year to 2 years.

If you receive community supervision (probation) in Tarrant County for your Felony DWI, you will be required to complete all of the probation conditions of a DWI (2nd offense) as well as the following: a minimum of 10 days in jail as a condition of your probation.

What Happens if I am Convicted of Intoxication Assault?

If you have been arrested and charged with Intoxication Assault in Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas law provides that you could face anywhere from 2 years to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections (prison), large fines, court costs and the suspension of your Texas driver’s license for a period of time ranging from 90 days to 1 year (if it is your first DWI/alcohol-related offense). However, if your Intoxication Assault conviction was committed within 5 years of a prior DWI – related offense (DWI, DWI 2nd, etc.), your driver’s license can be suspended for 1 year.

If you receive community supervision (probation) in Tarrant County for your Intoxication Assault, you will be required to complete all of the probation conditions of a DWI (1st offense) as well as the following: a minimum of 30 days in Tarrant County jail as a condition of your probation.

Additionally, if it is your 2nd or more Intoxication Assault conviction and you receive community supervision (probation), a court-ordered ignition interlock device will be installed and monitored on your vehicle (at your expense).

What Happens if I am Convicted of Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas?

If you have been arrested and charged with Intoxication Manslaughter in Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas law provides that you could face anywhere from 2 years to 20 years in the Texas Department of Corrections (prison), large fines, court costs and the suspension of your Texas driver’s license for a period of time ranging from 180 days to 2 years.

If you receive community supervision (probation) in Tarrant County for your Intoxication Manslaughter, you will be required to complete all of the probation conditions of a DWI (1st offense) as well as the following: a minimum of 120 days in Tarrant County jail as a condition of your probation.

What Can A DWI Lawyer Do To Fight My DWI Case?

If you are facing a DWI case in Texas, you need a DWI lawyer that will examine all options to minimize your risk and ensure you receive the best possible outcome. We have been examining the possible DWI punishments if you are convicted but your DWI attorney should do some of the following to give you the best chance at success:

  • Review your DWI reports and compare them to the body and patrol camera footage
  • Share the evidence with you to receive your input. You were at the scene and your story matters!
  • Determine if there was reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop or investigation
  • Review the administration of any field sobriety tests to ensure they were administered according to the required standards of the National Highway Traffic And Safety Administration.
  • Determine if probable cause existed for your arrest considering the totality of the circumstances
  • Analyze the breath test or blood draw to determine if it was legally obtained and admissible in court.

What Are Common Defenses To DWI Cases In Texas?

Facing a DWI in the courts of Tarrant County, Texas can be an intimidating and fearful prospect. One of the best ways to minimize anxiety and fear about the future is to make certain that you are working with a DWI attorney that has a plan of action to employ a DWI defense that provides you the best result. A few examples of DWI defenses include:

No Breath or Blood Test

In some jurisdictions in Texas, a blood test is not obtained by a warrant if the accused refuses to consent. This can happen for several reasons: a judge is not available to sign off on a blood warrant, the police do not have the budget to handle blood draws, the police officer simply fails to follow through on the warrant.

In the instance where there is no breath or blood test, a DWI becomes an opinion crime. A police officer merely forms an opinion as to whether someone is intoxicated by how they sound, look and smell. An opinion can be wrong, and when the State of Texas is required to prove a DWI beyond a reasonable doubt, every doubt raised by your DWI lawyer creates additional leverage to improve your bargaining position.

Not “Operating” a Motor Vehicle

Were you parked, sitting in your car, when the police approached and arrested you for DWI? If so, you may have a defense to DWI based upon the fact you were not driving or “operating” a motor vehicle.

Under Texas law, the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you “operated” a vehicle. Operation does not necessarily require proof of driving the vehicle. A number of Texas criminal courts have ruled that having the keys in the ignition, turned on and in drive would be considered “operating.” However, every case requires a fact-specific inquiry to determine if “operating” a motor vehicle can be proven.

We have represented several clients that were merely sleeping in their car, rather than driving while intoxicated. The police persisted in prosecuting them. An aggressive and experienced DWI lawyer can push this type of case to a jury trial and potentially secure a not guilty verdict. Many times, a jury can relate to the fact that someone was doing the right thing by choosing not to drive and will find reasonable doubt to the element of “operating” and exonerate the client.

Not Intoxicated At The Time Of Driving

Was your blood alcohol level over .08 when you gave a DWI breath or blood test? Does that automatically mean you are guilty of Driving While Intoxicated? Not necessarily. Under Texas law, the State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating a motor vehicle in a public place and intoxicated at the time of driving. Maybe your blood draw or breath test was given hours after your DWI traffic stop.

For example, we have seen clients give a blood test 3-5 hours after their traffic stop. This can happen for various reasons, but the number one reason is that it may take the police a substantial amount of time to secure a valid DWI search warrant from a judge. Why does this matter? What if you were given a blood test 4 hours after your traffic stop and your blood alcohol level was .10? At a DWI jury trial, a toxicologist would have to admit that a human body metabolizes alcohol at .02 per hour. In this example, your blood alcohol level could be as high as .02 X 4 = .08 higher or .08 lower. In other words, your blood alcohol level could range from .02 to .18. This is critical because the longer it takes to obtain a blood test, the less reliable the blood test is as a measure of intoxication.

At The Hampton Law Firm, we understand that the punishment provided under Texas law for DWI-related offenses can sometimes be intimidating and severe. Call The Hampton Law Firm now to schedule a free consultation with the DWI trial team and we will explain your options available to you under the law to fight your DWI charge.