Driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas is a serious criminal offense that can result in hefty fines, imprisonment and loss of driving privileges upon conviction. Prior convictions can increase Texas DWI penalties and might include a court-ordered installation of an ignition interlock device that prevents a vehicle from being driven if it detects the presence of alcohol on the driver’s breath. Unlike some states where DWI convictions only remain on an individual’s driving record for 10 years, a DWI conviction in Texas is never removed.
DWI in Texas
A person may be arrested in Texas for driving while intoxicated if a breath or blood test show the individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be .08 percent or higher. A person who refuses to submit to a chemical test to measure BAC can still be charged with driving while intoxicated based upon a police officer’s observations of the way he or she drove or acted when stopped. Drifting in and out of the lane of travel, driving at speeds well below the posted speed limit, slurred speech, glassy eyes, difficulty walking or standing or the smell of alcohol coming from the person can all be used to prove intoxication.
A motorist who is asked to submit to a blood or breath test by a police officer can be penalized for refusing to take the test. Texas is an “implied consent” state in which a motorist’s license to drive can be suspended for 180 days for refusing take the test. According to the law, individuals have consented to a BAC just by operating their vehicle.
First offense DWI penalties
Texas DWI penalties for a first conviction are a fine up to $2,000, from three to 180 days in jail and suspension of driving privileges for up to one year. A convicted individual must also pay an annual administrative fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for each of the three years following restoration of the person’s license.
Second offense DWI penalties
A person who has a prior DWI conviction and is convicted of driving while intoxicated again faces fines up to $4,000, a minimum of one month in jail up to a maximum of 12 months, license suspension up to two years and an annual administrative fee of either $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for each of the three years from restoration of the person’s driving privileges. An additional consequence of incurring a two or more conviction in a five-year period is the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle driven by the offender.
Third offense DWI Penalties
A person charged with driving while intoxicated who already has two or more prior convictions faces serious Texas DWI penalties. A judge can sentence a convicted offender to pay a $10,000 fine in addition to imprisonment for two to 10 years, license suspension of two years and payment of an annual administrative fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for each of three years once the person’s driving privileges are restored.