In Texas, not only is being arrested for a first-time DWI offense scary, but it is also serious. You are now facing criminal accusations that trigger a complicated court process. If you are found guilty, you could be incarcerated, fined, and lose your driving privileges.
What Happens After Your First DWI?
If an officer has probable cause to believe that you were driving while intoxicated, they will arrest you and take you to the police station for booking. The booking process involves recording your personal information and taking your fingerprints and mug shot.
You will then be placed in jail until your arraignment. The arraignment is your first court appearance. This proceeding is not the forum in which you defend your innocence. Rather, it is where the court verifies your identity and sets a bond. Once a bond is posted you will be released from jail.
You may ultimately decide to enter into a plea agreement with the State OR set your case for trial. The trial is where the State will attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were drving while intoxicated. You and your criminal defense attorney can challenge the accusations by pointing out weaknesses in the case against you.
If you are found not guilty, you will not face criminal penalties. A conviction, however, will result in several consequences.
Is a First DWI a Felony in Texas?
Generally, a first DWI is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas unless you were driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more, then it is a Class A misdemeanor. Although a misdemeanor is considered less severe than a felony, that does not decrease the seriousness of a first-time DWI. You have still been accused of committing a crime, and you can still face criminal penalties.
It's important to note that in some circumstances, a first DWI can be charged as a felony.
This can happen in the following situations:
- You had a child under 15 years of age in the car at the time of the offense (state jail felony)
- You caused an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury to another (third-degree felony)
- You caused an accident that resulted in the death of another (second-degree felony)
What Are the Penalties for a First-Time DWI in Texas?
As mentioned above, even a first DWI offense can result in severe penalties. The incarceration term and fine amount depend on whether you were charged with a Class B or Class A misdemeanor.
A Class B misdemeanor results in:
- Up to 180 days in jail and/or
- Up to $2,000 in fines
A Class A misdemeanor results in:
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or
- Up to $4,000 in fines
You may also be subject to a mandatory minimum jail term. If you were driving while intoxicated, the court must confine you to at least 72 hours in jail. If you had an open bottle of alcohol in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the mandatory minimum term is 6 days.
In addition to incarceration and fines, a first-time DWI conviction can subject you to the loss of driving privileges for up to 1 year.
In some cases, the court may impose community supervision in lieu of jail time or fines (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 42A.102). However, this option is not available to drivers who hold a commercial driver's license or were driving with an alcohol content of 0.15 or higher.
What to Do If You Get a First-Time DWI in Texas?
After being charged with a DWI – whether this is your first or subsequent violation – get in contact with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You have the right to have a lawyer on your side throughout your case, and they can provide the guidance you need to fight your charge.
For skilled legal representation in Dallas, contact Deandra Grant Law at (214) 225-7117 today.