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What are the penalties for a first DWI offense in Texas?

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2024 | DWI

The law in Texas criminalizes many behaviors, some of which are less harmful than others. The average person may break the law occasionally, possibly without even intending to do so. Even people who would never dream of committing a violent crime can sometimes break the law.

Many such crimes involve the control of a motor vehicle. The average individual does not take traffic statutes as seriously as they likely should. People who typically follow the law may think nothing of exceeding the posted speed limit. Some people even convince themselves that it is acceptable to drive after drinking despite knowing the degree of risk involved.

A driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense may seem like a minor issue if someone still trusts their ability to safely operate a vehicle. People may think of a DWI as a victimless crime and may expect the courts to only give them a slap on the wrist if they get arrested for a DWI while having no other criminal record. Some people end up feeling rather shocked by how serious the penalties for a DWI can be.

What are the possible risks of a DWI conviction?

Contrary to what many people believe, the decision to plead guilty to a DWI does not protect someone from serious penalties. A judge can still sentence someone to jail time and financial consequences for a technical infraction that is also their first criminal offense.

A first DWI conviction can lead to time in jail. The courts must impose three mandatory days in state custody, but a judge could sentence someone to up to a year in jail for a basic DWI. The defendant may also need to pay a fine of up to $2,000, in addition to relevant court costs. They may also lose their driver’s license for a year.

A case involving a particularly high blood alcohol concentration or injury to others could lead to worse penalties. Even without aggravated charges, a DWI can lead to a criminal record that affects someone’s life indefinitely.

Thankfully, those accused of impaired driving may have several options available for defending against those allegations. Questioning test results or challenging the legality of a traffic stop could benefit those facing DWI charges in Texas. Drivers who understand what is at risk are in a strong position to effectively respond to DWI charges with the assistance of a skilled legal team.