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Common Questions and Answers to Texas Driving While Intoxicated Laws

How is DWI defined in Texas?

In Texas, you may be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) if you are found to be driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08, or if you are found to be significantly impaired by alcohol or another drug, even if your BAC is below 0.08.

What is the difference between DWI and DUI?

In many states, driving under the influence (DUI) refers to what Texas calls DWI. However, in Texas, DUI is distinct from DWI and specifically refers to a person under the legal drinking age of 21 driving after consuming any amount of alcohol. Penalties for DUI in Texas typically include smaller fines of up to $500, as well as community service and required participation in an alcohol awareness program, but underage drinkers can also be charged with DWI if they are significantly impaired or have a BAC above the legal limit.

What happens when you are pulled over under suspicion of DWI?

If a law enforcement officer stops you because they suspect you are driving while intoxicated, they will ask you to show your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, as with most traffic stops. The officer will also ask you to submit to a breath or blood test, and if you refuse, you may face an automatic 180-day suspension of your license. If you agree to the test and your BAC is over the legal limit, you may be temporarily taken into custody, your license may be suspended and your vehicle impounded temporarily, and a court date will be scheduled for a judge to rule on your sentence.

What are the legal consequences if this is your first DWI?

First-time DWI offenders typically receive relatively lesser sentences, including fines of up to $2,000, license suspension for up to a year, three days to six months in jail, and an annual fee to retain your license for the next three years. You also may be placed on probation or required to perform community service or participate in a drunk driver education program, and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle to measure your BAC before driving.

What happens if this is not your first DWI?

If you have previously been charged with DWI, regardless of how long ago it happened, additional offenses usually come with increased penalties. A second offense can result in fines up to $4,000, jail time up to a year, and a suspended license for up to two years. A third offense is considered a felony, carrying fines up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

What factors can increase a DWI charge?

Even for first-time offenders, certain factors can increase the charges you may face. For example, driving with a BAC at or above 0.15 can result in higher fines. If you have a child passenger at the time of DWI, or if you injure or kill someone when driving while intoxicated, you may face felony charges and extended prison sentences of up to 20 years or more in the most severe circumstances.

How can you get your license back after a DWI sentence?

Depending on the severity of your offense, you may be able to apply for a provisional driver's license during the suspension period, which often requires the use of an ignition interlock device. At the end of your suspension period, you must pay a reinstatement fee and submit documents demonstrating your compliance with the sentence in order to have your license reinstated.

What can a DWI defense lawyer do to help you?

Your DWI defense attorney will listen to your account of the circumstances leading up to your arrest, and will thoroughly review and investigate the case, including police reports and BAC test results. Especially for first-time offenders, an attorney may be able to negotiate reduced charges, fines, and jail time in exchange for your participation in community service and education programs. Repeat offenders will likely face greater charges, but an attorney can still help you negotiate a fair sentence. Your attorney can also litigate in a trial if the best option is to contest the charges or attempt to prove your innocence.

Contact an Austin DWI Defense Attorney Today

If you have been arrested for DWI and have additional questions, or if you need a defense attorney, contact us 24/7 at 512-474-2222 or 432-570-1499 for a free consultation. We represent clients in Austin, Odessa, Georgetown, Midland, and throughout Travis County, Hays County, Ector County, Midland County, and Williamson County. Hablamos Español.

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