Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, you might face DUI or DWI charges. Here’s what you need to know.
DWI vs. DUI in Texas: What’s the Difference?
In Texas, DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) are separate crimes. Adults over 21 with blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08 are charged with DWI.
Individuals below legal drinking age who come to authorities’ attention with any perceptible amount of alcohol in their system are liable to be charged with DUI. Younger people also can be charged with DWI and DUI simultaneously.
Both these charges result in license suspension. However, suspension periods associated with DUI are shorter than with DWI. Both charges carry stiff fines and can include other penalties.
First-Time DWI in Texas
In Texas, a first-time DWI is typically a Class B misdemeanor. The punishment can range from 72 hours to six months in jail. A fine up to $2,000 may be levied. If your BAC was above 0.15, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor with harsher potential penalties.
In most cases, first-time DWI offenders spend no time in jail. Instead, they are placed on probation. They do not suffer further penalties unless they violate probation through an additional offense.
Second DWI Offense in Texas
A second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum fine becomes $4,000, while the maximum jail time is one year. Minimum community service is 80 hours. Most second DWIs result in probation, but the terms tend to be more harsh.
Probation for a second offense may last up to two years.
Do I Need a DWI Criminal Defense Lawyer?
A “drunk driving lawyer” is essential if you’ve been accused of DWI. Multiple factors can cause charges to be dismissed, including police error. This exempts you from punishment and protects your criminal record. A DWI defense lawyer also knows how to appeal to a judge and jury to minimize the impact of charges on your future.
Should I Plead Guilty?
There may be times when pleading guilty is appropriate and can reduce your sentence. However, most first- and even second-time DWI offenders have little to gain by pleading guilty. The best DWI attorneys understand when it is in your interest to fight the charges.