Tag Archives: drunk driving

What You Need to Know About DWI Penalties in Texas

If you have been arrested for DWI in Texas, you may be wondering what penalties you could face if convicted. When calculating your penalties, a court considers a number of factors.

The penalties for DWI in Texas are calculated based upon how many times you have been convicted of DWI, your age, and whether an accident, injury or death occurred. If you had an open container in your vehicle, or if you had passengers in your car, your penalties could also be affected.

DWI penalties may include fines and surcharges, license suspension, or revocation, jail time and community service. In addition, a court may order the completion of DWI education or intervention programs. A first-time offender may face up to a $2,000 fine, jail time of three to 180 days, and a license suspension of up to one year. A court may also order completion of a DWI education program for first-time offenders.

Drivers convicted of DWI may incur a surcharge of up to $2,000 per year to maintain their licenses. If convicted of DWI multiple times, a driver faces higher fines, more jail time and longer license suspensions. In addition, drivers convicted of DWI while driving with a passenger under the age of 15 face special penalties that could include a fine of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to two years.

A driver who causes serious bodily harm or death while driving under the influence may be hit with felony charges. Intoxication assault (serious bodily harm resulting from intoxicated driving) and intoxication manslaughter (death resulting from intoxicated driving) are very serious offenses that could lead to significant fines and jail time. An intoxication assault conviction could lead to a fine of up to $10,000 and between two and 10 years in prison. A conviction of intoxication manslaughter could result in a similar fine and from two to 20 years in prison.

If you have been arrested for DWI, an experienced Texas DWI attorney can work to protect your rights.

Commercial License DWI

Driving while intoxicated has severe consequences for any driver, but if you are a commercial driver, your livelihood is also on the line.  A commercial party bus driver in Illinois was recently charged with criminal and professional penalties for allegedly driving students to their prom while he was intoxicated.  And who can forget the limo driver who drove some Detroit Red Wings hockey players after they won the Stanley Cup?  The limo driver was intoxicated, and the crash left one player in a coma, one player unable to walk, and the limo driver in jail.

In Texas, if a commercial driver has a blood alcohol limit of 0.04 percent or higher, the driver is over the legal limit.  In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates commercial drivers.  FMCSA regulations state that any commercial driver operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher is considered to be driving under the influence.  Further, if you hold a commercial driver’s license and you either refuse a chemical test or you take one and have a BAC of 0.04 percent in a commercial vehicle or 0.08 percent in any other vehicle, your commercial license will be disqualified for one year.  If you drive a commercial vehicle with hazardous materials, the penalty is three years.

Under Texas law, if you have a commercial driver’s license and you are convicted of a DWI, in addition to the penalties you will receive under the DWI statute (such as fines, possible jail time and suspension of your regular driver’s license), you will also lose your commercial driver’s license for at least one year.  This is true regardless of whether you were driving a commercial or non-commercial vehicle at the time of your DWI arrest.  A second DWI conviction will result in the loss of your commercial driver’s license for life. However, you can apply for reinstatement after 10 years.

If you are a commercial driver, being unable to drive means being unable to work.  If you find yourself facing DWI charges, consultation with a tenacious San Antonio DWI attorney is critical to maintaining your livelihood.

Boating DWI (BWI) in Texas

Often, a day on the lake includes food and a cold beer or other form of alcohol.  While this is perfectly legal, it is important to keep in mind that most Texas DWI laws are in force when operating a motorized watercraft.  However, because the watercraft must be motorized, this excludes canoes, kayaks and other paddle boats operated by human force.

Unlike in the operation of an automobile, it is legal to consume alcohol while operating a watercraft.  However, if doing so causes you to have a blood alcohol level above 0.08, you may be arrested for a BWI.  Also, unlike in a DWI, a police officer does not have to have probable cause to stop you while operating a boat.  On the road, an officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over, such as for speeding or swerving.  But on the water, an officer may stop you at any time to check for an operator’s license or life jackets, regardless of the way you are operating the boat.  In the process, an officer may sense that you are impaired and may ask you to perform a field sobriety test.  A field sobriety test following a long day on the lake may present all sorts of problems for you as a driver, even when you are not impaired.  These include weak legs from waterskiing, bloodshot eyes from the water, red skin from the sun and more.

The penalties attached to a BWI in Texas are the same as for a DWI.  They include:

  • 1st conviction: A fine up to $2,000 and/or jail time up to 180 days
  • 2nd conviction: A fine up to $4,000 and/or jail time up to one year
  • 3rd conviction: A fine up to $10,000 and/or jail time up to two to 10 years

Furthermore, a BWI conviction can act as a first conviction for a subsequent DWI, making your first DWI a second conviction.

Being charged with BWI is a serious offense.  If you have been charged with BWI in Texas, it is important that you contact an experienced BWI defense attorney who can defend your case and help protect your rights.