Driving While Intoxicated Penalties in Texas
Learn the different types of penalties one can face for a DWI conviction in Texas.
Texas’ laws on drinking and driving have strengthened in recent decades, as have those in many other states across the nation. It can be all too easy for responsible drivers to be charged with a DWI offense, making it highly important that all drivers be fully aware of the state’s penalties for these violations if convicted.
Penalties of DWI convictions in Texas
Regardless of whether or not a DWI conviction represents a first or subsequent offense, defendants can be required to pay high fines, spend time in jail or prison and have their driving privileges suspended.
The Texas Department of Transportation outlines the basic penalty guidelines for first, second and third offenses as follows:
- A person convicted of a first-time DWI will have a suspended license for up to one year, be fined up to $2,000 and spend up to 180 days in jail.
- A person convicted of a second DWI will have a suspended license for up to two years, be fined up to $4,000 and spend up to one year in jail. The use of an ignition interlock device may also be ordered once the license suspension period is over.
- A person convicted of a third DWI will have a suspended license for up to two years, be fined $10,000 and spend between two and 10 years in prison. As with a second conviction, an IID may be required once driving privileges are reinstated.
In all three cases, drivers will be required to pay annual fees up to $2,000 for a period of three years to retain driving privileges. If a minor is in a vehicle when a driver is arrested for drunk driving, all penalties will increase.
The Texas Department of Public Safety indicates that drivers under the age of 21 who are arrested for drinking and driving will have their licenses suspended for one year and be required to participate in substance education. The suspension period may be lowered with the use of an IID and performance of community service.
Not Just Drinking and Driving
Driving with an open container of alcohol in a vehicle is also a violation of Texas law. The Texas penal code indicates that containers with even a broken seal can be deemed open and therefore illegal. Such containers are not allowed in the passenger areas of vehicles. The glove box, trunk or other locked storage areas are not considered passenger areas. For vehicles with no trunks, the area behind the last row of seats is also not considered a passenger area.
What Can Defendants Do?
When an arrest for DWI charges is made, a lot of uncertainty can ensue. Calling an attorney promptly is always recommended and can give defendants the guidance they deserve.