DWI First Offense
Have you recently been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas? If so, it is important to understand the many penalties you now face—even if it is your first offense.
As you most likely know, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For this reason, a DWI first offense is a type of Class B Misdemeanor, which is the second most severe type of misdemeanor offense in the state (other examples of Class B Misdemeanors include theft and drug possession).
If convicted of a first offense, you will be sentenced to a minimum of 72 hours in jail. This number increases if you were caught driving with an open container of alcohol and, as a result, you may be behind bars for up to six days.
A DWI conviction is far from cheap. You may be fined up to $2,000—and this does not include the numerous administrative fees you may have to pay. The state of Texas also fines first offenders an additional $1,000 yearly surcharge, which must be paid for the next three years after your conviction. This fee doubles if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.16% or higher.
The penalties for a DWI offense do not only include jail time and fees. If you are convicted of a first offense, you may lose your license for up to a year, or be ordered to attend a 12-hour DWI education program at your own expense. Community service and probation may be included in your sentence as well.
Along with the penalties, a DWI conviction will also impact your day-to-day life. Your auto insurance costs will skyrocket once your insurer learns of your conviction, and you may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. It is also important to remember that a DWI conviction will remain on your driving record forever, which may make obtaining certain jobs difficult, and result in higher insurance premiums for the course of your life.
Fortunately, a DWI arrest does not automatically lead to a conviction. An experienced DWI attorney can challenge the charges against you and, in many cases, may be able to reduce or eliminate them altogether.