Drunk driving, also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI), is a criminal offense in Texas. Generally, Texas drivers are considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher, OR if they are physically or mentally impaired due to a substance in their body. For drivers with a commercial license, the BAC limit is lower at .04, and for drivers below the age of 21, the limit is .02.
People arrested for DWI are often surprised at being accused of this offense. A huge fraction of them don’t even have as much as a prior speeding ticket. What’s more, a DWI conviction can come with heavy penalties. People hear of drunk-driving cases so often that it seems like a simple, run-of-the-mill violation, but in reality, a DWI conviction may impact a person’s life in for a very long time to come.
If you or a family member has been charged with drunk driving in Texas, call on attorney George R. Milner III. He is a trusted criminal defense attorney who has won numerous Not Guilty verdicts and dismissals.
DWI Penalties In Texas
Punishment for drunk driving in Texas depends on how many times the defendant has been previously convicted of this offense.
Penalties For First-Time DWI Conviction
Considered a Class B misdemeanor
- Jail time from 6 to 180 days
- Fines of up to $2,000
- License suspension from 90 days to 1 year
- Community service of up to 100 hours
- 12-hour DWI Education Program.
Penalties For Second DWI Conviction
Considered a Class A misdemeanor
- Jail time of up to one year
- Fines of up to $4,000
- License suspension for up to two years
- Community service of up to 200 hours.
Penalties For Third DWI Offense
Considered a third-degree felony
- Prison sentence of up to 10 years in prison
- Fines of up to $10,000
- License suspension of up to two years
- Community service of up to 200 hours.
On top of these, penalties may be increased if there are other offenses associated with the drunk-driving. For instance, DWI with a child passenger is considered a state jail felony, punishable with a maximum of two years’ jail time and a maximum of $10,000 in fines. Meanwhile, DWI with a BAC of .15 or more may be punished with up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.
Regardless of the degree of the offense, a drunk-driving conviction can have long-term consequences. This conviction will remain permanently on the person’s criminal history and driving record, even if it was only the first offense. It is not uncommon for some professional licenses (such as that of doctors, nurses, and lawyers) to be suspended or restricted due to a DWI record. Insurance premiums are also likely to be higher for drunk-driving offenders.
Defenses In A Texas DWI Case
As in other types of criminal cases, a DWI defendant is considered innocent until proven otherwise. The “burden of proof” is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. If you are facing DWI charges, you’ll want a lawyer who is experienced in weakening the prosecution’s arguments.
Fortunately, there are various defense strategies available to fight a drunk-driving charge, such as:
- Challenging the legality of the stop. Evidence against you may be deemed inadmissible if your rights were violated during your traffic stop – for example, if the police officer just stopped your vehicle without a valid cause, or if you were coerced to say or do something involuntarily.
- Challenging the tests. Breathalyzer tests, field sobriety tests, blood tests, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (eye) test, and other drunk-driving assessments are known to be problematic, and often, unreliable. If any error occurred during the administering of the test, handling of the sample, or interpreting of the results, these results may not be used as evidence against you.
- Challenging testimonies. The police officers and other witnesses may give their statements, but these statements could be unreliable due to bias, emotions, or imperfect human memory. Quite frequently, we’ve seen DWI defendants get acquitted because the witnesses against them did not hold up well under cross-examination.
- Sadly, many motorists can attest to being “set up” by law enforcers themselves, or being compelled by officers to drive while intoxicated. A common example is when an officer insists that you move your car even though you are obviously tipsy. Manipulation like this may be considered entrapment, and it is illegal.
Call George R. Milner III – Experienced DWI Defense
For nearly three decades now, attorney George R. Milner III has been protecting the freedoms of Texas citizens charged with a crime. He has won some of the state’s most complicated cases, and DWI is among his most expert practice areas. See how Mr. Milner can help you.