What Is A DWI? Your Complete Guide

Almost 30 people die in an alcohol-related crash every single day. That’s about one death every 50 minutes. Meanwhile, the annual cost of these crashes has now exceeded over $44 billion.

If you were caught driving while intoxicated (DWI), you might have to deal with serious legal consequences. What is a DWI and how could it impact your life? Keep reading to find out.

In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about DWI charges in Texas.

Once you recognize the consequences of a DWI charge, you’ll see why it’s essential to have a lawyer at your side. Discover the answer to the question “what is a DWI in Texas?” with this guide today!

What Is A DWI Your Complete GuideWhat Is a DWI?

Some states use DWI to describe “Driving While Intoxicated” and “Driving While Under the Influence” interchangeably. Other states use DWI and DUI for two different offenses. The punishments for these two violations often differ as well.

For states that differentiate between DWI and DUI, a DWI implies the driver was intoxicated by alcohol. A DUI, on the other hand, implies the driver was under the influence of drugs.

What is a DWI in Texas?

In Texas, a driver can get charged with a DWI if they’re intoxicated with a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08%.

Someone is injured or killed in an alcohol-related crash every 20 minutes in Texas. Whether driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you’re endangering yourself or others. Your ability to make smart, safe decisions will become impaired.

Understanding DWI charges and the potential legal consequences can help you make smart decisions before you get behind the wheel.

What Happens When You’re Pulled Over

A police officer might pull you over if it appears you’re driving recklessly. If you appear impaired, an officer could still charge you with a DWI, regardless of your BAC level.

In order to determine whether or not you’re impaired, an officer can complete a series of Field Sobriety Tests. These tests are designed to measure your balance and coordination. It can also determine your attention span while you’re under the influence.

A few example tests include the walk-and-turn test or the one-leg stand test. These tests measure your balance. The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test is used often as well.

The Field Sobriety Tests confirm someone is driving while under the influence in 90% of cases.

If you’re asked to complete the one-leg stand test, you need to lift one foot off the ground. Then, you’ll count up from 1,001 while trying to maintain your balance. The officer will study how you remain upright.

The walk-and-turn test is used often as well. With this test, you’ll need to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line. At the end of the line, you’ll turn on one foot, then walk back in the opposite direction.

The officer will determine if you lose your balance or take more steps than necessary.

Your eyes might involuntary jerk when they rotate at certain angles. This jerking is called horizontal gaze nystagmus. When you’re under the influence, the jerking can become more severe.

The HGN test is used to study how your eyes follow an object.

Once you complete these tests, the office might ask you to complete a chemical or breath test. These tests will determine your blood alcohol content levels.

An officer might call a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to assist with testing as well.

Potential Consequences

Now that we’ve answered the question “what is a DWI?” let’s review some of the potential consequences.

If you were charged with a DWI, it’s important to contact a lawyer right away.

Make sure to choose a lawyer who specializes in DWI cases in Texas. They’ll have experience with Texas DWI laws. Make sure they’re licensed to practice in Texas.

You can check your local bar association website to confirm their licensing.

If you fail to contact a lawyer, you might have to experience serious legal consequences. For example, you might need to pay fines. You could also lose your driver’s license or spend time in jail.

The consequences you experience could become more severe depending on the circumstances of your arrest. For example, did you have a prior conviction? Was there an open bottle in the car when you were pulled over?

Here are a few consequences you might experience without a lawyer there to help you fight your DWI charge.


If you’re a first-time offender, you might have to spend time in jail. Fines can vary between $500 and $5,000 per state.

An experienced, qualified attorney could help reduce the fines you’ll have to pay.

Jail Time

What is a DWI considered? A first-time offense in all states is considered a misdemeanor. You could have to spend as long as 180 days in jail.

You might have to spend more time in jail if there are aggravating circumstances associated with your case.

For example, was your BAC beyond the legal limit of 0.08%? You could have to spend more time in jail if your BAC reaches 0.20%.

If someone was injured or died in a crash while you were driving, you might have to spend a few years in jail.


As a first-time DWI offender, the state could suspend your license for 90 days. For a second offense, your license might get suspended for a year. It could reach three years for a third offense.

The state could also confiscate your car or put an inhibition interlock device on your car. You’ll have to blow into an alcohol sensor that determines your BAC before you can drive.


Minor offenders who are younger than the legal drinking age might experience more severe consequences. Minor convicted of DWIs are sometimes convicted of a separate charge.

What Is a DWI?: Why You Need to Call an Attorney

What is a DWI charge? Driving while intoxicated could impact your life. You might have to spend time behind bars or pay a hefty fine.

Don’t wait to build your defense. Instead, contact a qualified DWI attorney right away. They can help you avoid serious legal consequences.

Ready to build your case? Contact us today to get started.

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