Texas has some of the harshest penalties for drunk driving in the country, and even if it is your first offense, you could face serious administrative and criminal consequences. A conviction is never your only option, and you can fight back against a DWI charge and protect yourself with a strong defense.
The consequences of drunk driving in Texas
It is important not to underestimate the serious nature of charges related to driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas. Many people assume that if it is their first offense, they will not have to face time behind bars, but in reality, a one-time mistake can have life-altering penalties. For first-time DWI offenders, penalties can include:
- License suspension of at least 90 days
- Minimum of three days and maximum of 180 days in jail
- Fines up to $2,000
- Mandatory participation in Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) to keep your driver’s license -fees last for three years
- DWI conviction on your criminal record for 10 years
These are serious penalties, some of which will impact your life for years to come. In cases in which a minor was in the vehicle at the time of a drunk driving arrest, fines and penalties will increase as follows:
- 180 days up to two years in jail
- Fines up to $10,000
The law does not require the installation of ignition interlock devices or drug or alcohol treatment programs for DWI offenders, but a judge may use his or her discretion regarding these penalties on a case-by-case basis.
Defense options for DWI/DUI offenders
Texas law does not allow for the downgrading of DWI charges to lesser offenses, but there are other options available to you. If there was a violation of your rights during the initial traffic stop, if evidence was collected illegally or if there are other major problems with the prosecution’s case, your attorney can move to have the case against you completely dismissed.
If you plead guilty to drunk driving, the terms of the conviction could be subject to lesser penalties as part of a plea agreement. Likewise, you can work with your attorney to mitigate the affect of a conviction. It may be appropriate for you to fight for the following:
- Lower fines
- Less time or no time in jail
- No ignition interlock device
- No required substance abuse treatment program
Those arrested for drunk driving also have the right to seek a reinstatement of their driver’s license for transportation to work or school. Regardless of whether it is your first offense or you have multiple DWI convictions on your record, you would be wise to take immediate action to protect yourself and take back control of your life.