What Does DWI Stand For?
A DWI charge in Texas is a serious offense. As a Class B misdemeanor, your first DWI charge can carry hefty penalties. And the punishments only increase with each subsequent offense. A DWI attorney in Texas can help you understand your charges and identify strategies for your defense. Going into court with an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer by your side can help you defend your case and have your penalties lessened or possibly dropped altogether.
What Does DWI Stand For?
DWI is an acronym for “driving while intoxicated.” While the most common source of intoxicated driving is alcohol, Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 does not limit intoxicated driving to alcohol alone. Texas law defines intoxicated driving as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.” This means that a driver can be charged with DWI if they are driving while intoxicated by drugs such as marijuana.
While any amount or indication of drug use can be grounds for a DWI, most alcohol-based cases require a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .08%. However, even if your BAC is lower than .08%, you can still be charged with DWI if your driving was impaired by the introduction of any alcohol.
How Does DWI Differ from DUI?
While the terms may often be used interchangeably, a DWI and a DUI are entirely different cases in Texas law. DUI stands for driving under the influence. While it still pertains to impaired driving via alcohol or drugs, it only applies to minors under the age of 21. Texas Penal Code Section 106.041 dictates Texas’ zero-tolerance laws regarding underage drinking and driving. Even if a minor driver had a BAC under .08%, they could still be charged with DUI. Any detectable trace of alcohol or drug use in a driver under 21 is grounds for a DUI charge, which may elevate to a full DWI charge under certain circumstances.
What Are the Penalties for DWI?
DWIs have three main levels of charges: first offense, second offense, and any subsequent offenses. Each DWI charge stacks on the previous ones, leading to more severe penalties. DWI charges may also elevate or carry additional punishments if other traffic and state laws were broken while driving intoxicated.
First Offense DWI Penalties
A first offense for DWI is a Class B misdemeanor. Penalties include:
- Jail Time – A minimum of 72 hours with a maximum of six months.
- Fines – Up to $2,000 in state fines and an additional $1,000-2,000 per year for the next three years.
- License Suspension – Lasting between 90 days and one year. There is a 15-day challenge period in which you can work with your DWI attorney to attempt to keep your license.
- Probation – Required attendance at special educational programs designed to prevent further DWI instances.
Second Offense DWI Penalties
A second offense for DWI is a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties include:
- Jail Time – A minimum of 72 hours with a maximum of one year.
- Fines – Up to $4,000 in state fines and an additional $1,000-2,000 per year for the next three years.
- License Suspension – Lasting for 18 months, with an additional $100 charge for reinstatement.
Third and Subsequent Offenses DWI Penalties
A third offense for DWI is a third-degree felony. Penalties include:
- Jail Time – A minimum of two years with a maximum of ten years.
- Fines – Up to $10,000 in state fines.
- License Suspension – Up to two years.
Additional DWI Charges
While DWI charges alone are difficult to deal with, your case may face additional charges for other traffic violations. For example, driving while intoxicated with a child passenger can push the charge into a felony, especially if the child is under 15, as that falls under child endangerment laws. Other instances, such as driving with an open container or causing injury or death while driving intoxicated, can also elevate the charges and carry hefty penalties.
A DWI Attorney in Texas Can Help
If you find yourself faced with DWI charges, don’t face them alone. At the Hager Law Firm, you can find an experienced DWI attorney in Texas ready to help you defend your case. Our knowledge and expertise in dealing with DWI offenses in Texas allow us to consider every angle when building your defensive strategy. For help with a DWI charge, call the Hager Law Firm today at (903) 466-0001 to schedule a consultation today.