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DWI Laws & Penalties

Driving While Intoxicated

A person commits DWI if he or she is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. "Intoxicated" is defined 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; or
  • having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

DWI First Offense Penalties

  • Class B Misdemeanor
  • Minimum term of confinement of 72 hours in jail
  • Maximum term of confinement of 180 days in jail
  • Fine not to exceed $2,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to one year

DWI First Offense with Open Container Penalties

  • Class B Misdemeanor
  • Minimum term of confinement of six days in jail
  • Maximum term of confinement of 180 days in jail
  • Fine not to exceed $2,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to one year

DWI Second Offense Penalties

  • Class A Misdemeanor
  • Minimum term of confinement of 30 days in jail
  • Maximum term of confinement of one year in jail
  • Fine not to exceed $4,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to two years

DWI Third Offense Penalties

  • Third Degree Felony
  • Minimum term of confinement of 2 years in prison
  • Maximum term of confinement of 10 years in prison
  • Fine not to exceed $10,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to two years

Open Container

"Open container" means: a bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, that has been opened, that has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed.

It is a class C misdemeanor to knowingly possess an open container in a passenger area of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked.

It is not a violation to have an open container in a locked glove compartment or similar storage area, the trunk, or the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle, if the vehicle does not have a trunk.

It is also not a violation to have an open container if you are a paying passenger in a bus, taxicab or limousine. Nor is it a violation to have an open container in the living quarters in a motorized house coach or trailer.

Open Container Penalties

  • Class C Misdemeanor
  • Fine not to exceed $500.00

Boating While Intoxicated

A person commits BWI if he or she is intoxicated while operating a watercraft.

BWI First Offense Penalties

  • Class B Misdemeanor
  • Minimum term of confinement of 72 hours in jail
  • Maximum term of confinement of 180 days in jail
  • Fine not to exceed $2,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to one year

BWI Second Offense Penalties

  • Class A Misdemeanor
  • Minimum term of confinement of 30 days in jail
  • Maximum term of confinement of one year in jail
  • Fine not to exceed $4,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to two years

BWI Third Offense Penalties

  • Third Degree Felony
  • Minimum term of confinement of 2 years in prison
  • Maximum term of confinement of 10 years in prison
  • Fine not to exceed $10,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to two years

DWI with Child

A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place and the vehicle is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age.

DWI with Child Penalties

  • State Jail Felony
  • Minimum term of confinement of 180 days in state jail
  • Maximum term of confinement of 2 years in state jail
  • Fine not to exceed $10,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to two years

Intoxication Assault

A person commits an offense if the person, by accident or mistake:

  1. while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated, or while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another; or
  2. as a result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated causes serious bodily injury to another. "Serious bodily injury" means: injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Intoxication Assault Penalties

  • Third Degree Felony
  • Minimum term of confinement of 2 years in prison
  • Maximum term of confinement of 10 years in prison
  • Fine not to exceed $10,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to two years

Intoxication Manslaughter

A person commits an offense if the person:

  • operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and
  • is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.

Intoxication Manslaughter Penalties

  • Second Degree Felony
  • Minimum term of confinement of 2 years in prison
  • Maximum term of confinement of 20 years in prison
  • Fine not to exceed $10,000.00
  • Driver’s License Suspension for up to two years

Can you get probation for intoxication offenses?

If convicted for an intoxicated related offense, you may be eligible for probation, however, there is no guarantee you will receive probation.  A Judge or Jury may assess punishment and grant probation, but Judges and Juries bring with them their own viewpoints about probation for each case and its unique set of facts.  Also, many DWI probations require mandatory time in jail as a condition.  Further, first offenders are more likely to receive probation with no jail time whereas those with prior crimes may be less likely to receive probation or receive probation with jail time as a condition.  Please feel free to sit down with Doug for a free consultation and he will go into more detail based on your case, personal information, and best strategy for defending your DWI case. 

Will a DWI arrest show on my record?

If you are arrested for DWI, that arrest will show up on your criminal record. If you are convicted for DWI, the conviction and preceding arrest will be on your record for the rest of your life.

However, if you are not convicted for the DWI, the arrest can be expunged from your record if certain requirements are met under Texas law.

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