If you’ve been accused of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, you’re likely feeling confused and overwhelmed. A DWI conviction can have serious repercussions, including fines, license suspension, and jail time. That’s why it’s critical to understand the gravity of the situation, the possible consequences, and the importance of having an experienced attorney to help defend your case.
Below, we’ll give you a quick overview of what you should be aware of regarding DWI accusations in Texas, including the definition of a DWI in the state, the potential consequences, and how our team at Case J. Darwin can support you as you navigate the legal system and defend your rights.
How Does Texas Law Define DWI?
Under Texas law, driving while intoxicated is defined as operating a motor vehicle in a public place while “intoxicated.” Intoxicated is described as either:
- Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
- Not being able to use one’s mental or physical faculties normally due to alcohol or drug use, including prescription drugs and illegal substances.
DWIs are not limited to motor vehicles and can also be charged while operating a boat or an airplane.
What’s the Difference Between a DWI and a DUI?
Texas differentiates between DWI and driving under the influence (DUI), while other states treat them interchangeably. DUI is a crime that only applies to people under the age of 21. When a minor operates a motor vehicle in a public setting with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system, they’re considered to be DUI.
Do You Have To Consent to a Breath or Blood Test When Suspected of a DWI?
No. According to the Texas Transportation Code, the implied consent law applies to all licensed drivers in the state. Under this law, when you receive a driver’s license in Texas and operate a motor vehicle on the state’s roads, it’s deemed that you’ve given your consent to submit to a chemical test to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs.
If you refuse to take the test, you risk having your license suspended automatically, and the refusal itself may be used against you in court.
You will be subject to Administrative License Revocation, a license suspension unrelated to your criminal DWI penalties, if you refuse or fail a chemical test (often a blood or breath test).
What Are the Penalties for Being Charged With a DWI in Texas?
Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for driving while intoxicated, and the penalties for a DWI conviction can be severe. They may include fines, license suspension, the requirement to attend alcohol education programs, and even imprisonment. Various factors, including your BAC level, prior DWI convictions, and whether the offense led to any injuries or fatalities, will influence the penalties applied in your case.
The chart below identifies the various penalties you may face when charged with DWI or DUI:
|DWI||DUI (only minors under 21 years old)||Refusing or failing a chemical test|
|First offense||Typically, a Class B misdemeanor, carrying:|
If DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or more, it’s classified as a Class A misdemeanor that carries:
|If under 21:|
If 17 or older with a BAC of 0.08 or greater:
|Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger||In addition to the fines above, depending on your offense, you also face:|
|You injured someone while DWI.||If you injure someone while driving intoxicated, you can face felony DWI charges.|
The penalties for felony DWI vary depending on the severity of the injury but can include up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
|Someone was killed as a result of your DWI.||If you kill someone or someone dies as a result of your DWI, you’ll be charged with intoxication manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.|
Let the Law Office of Case J. Darwin Defend Your DWI Case
If you’ve been charged with DWI in Texas, you must consult with an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights and options. Case J. Darwin is a leading DWI defense law firm serving San Marcos and the surrounding areas. From first-time to repeat offenders, we have experience defending clients facing various DWI charges.
Our skilled and determined attorneys will vigorously defend your rights and develop an effective defense strategy to achieve the best results in your case. Many clients we’ve worked with have had their charges dismissed or substantially reduced.