Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in Texas, and the consequences can be severe. If you are a first-time DWI offender in Texas, it is important to understand the potential penalties and your legal options.
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DWI is defined as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance that impairs your ability to safely drive (or a combination of drugs and alcohol). In Texas, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08%, and if you are found to be driving with a BAC above this limit, you can be charged with a DWI offense.
If you are a first-time DWI offender in Texas, you may face the following penalties:
- Fines – The fines for a first-time DWI offense can range from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the severity of the offense.
- Jail Time – You could face up to 180 days in jail for a first-time DWI offense.
- License Suspension – Your driver’s license could be suspended for up to 2 years.
- Ignition Interlock Device – You may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. An IID is a breathalyzer device that requires you to blow into it before starting your vehicle. If it detects alcohol on your breath, your vehicle will not start.
- Driver’s License Fines – If convicted of DWI you may also face a driver’s license fine of up to $6,000.
- Probation – You may be placed on probation, which can include community service, drug and alcohol counseling, and regular check-ins with a probation officer. The longest your probation can be in Texas for a first-time DWI offender is two years.
It is important to note that these penalties can vary depending on the specifics of your case, such as your BAC level, any injuries or property damage caused, and any prior criminal history.
As part of your arrest and bond conditions you may also have to partake in DWI counseling. DWI counseling is a form of substance abuse treatment that specifically addresses issues related to driving while intoxicated. It may involve individual or group therapy sessions with a licensed therapist, as well as educational programs that focus on the dangers and consequences of driving while under the influence.
The goals of DWI counseling may include:
- Addressing underlying issues – Many people who receive a DWI have underlying issues that contributed to their behavior, such as alcohol or drug addiction, mental health disorders, or stress. DWI counseling can help identify and address these issues to prevent future incidents.
- Developing coping skills – DWI counseling can teach individuals coping skills to manage stress, cravings, and triggers that may lead to drinking and driving.
- Changing behavior – DWI counseling can help individuals understand the consequences of their actions and work towards changing their behavior to prevent future incidents.
- Meeting legal requirements – DWI counseling is often required by law as part of a sentence for a DWI conviction. Attending and completing DWI counseling can help individuals meet these legal requirements and potentially reduce the severity of their sentence.
DWI counseling is often a requirement for individuals who have been convicted of a DWI, but it can also be a valuable tool for those who have not been caught or charged with a DWI. Seeking counseling voluntarily can help individuals address underlying issues and prevent future incidents before they occur. Talk to an experienced DWI lawyer about the counseling options you may need to seek if you are arrested.
If you are facing your first DWI charge in Texas, there are several legal options available to you. You have the right to a lawyer and can choose to plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. Your lawyer can also help negotiate a plea deal, represent you in court, or take the case to a jury trial.
In addition, many counties in Texas offer a pretrial diversion program for some first-time DWI offenders. This program allows eligible individuals to avoid conviction and penalties by completing a probationary period that includes community service, counseling, and other requirements. Every pretrial diversion program is different and you need to pay very close attention to the contract language as it may impact your ability to expunge the arrest.
It is important to take any DWI charge seriously, especially if you are a first-time offender. Hiring an experienced DWI lawyer can help you understand your legal options and navigate the complex legal system. Remember to always prioritize safety on the road, and never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.