With San Antonio ranking as the city with the 4th most DWI arrests in the United States, it is evident that many do not grasp just how life changing the consequences of a DWI can be. In Texas, a DWI comes with some of the strictest penalties in the country, making it especially important to be aware of what you may be faced with if you’re charged with driving while intoxicated. Here are Texas’ DWI laws and penalties that everyone should be aware of, as well as some things that San Antonio DWI lawyers want you to know if you’re ever arrested for a DWI.
What are Texas’ DWI Laws?
As with the rest of the United States, Texas has a legal blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08% when operating any motor vehicle, and has different penalties for driving while intoxicated depending on the severity of the offense and whether it’s a driver’s first, second, or third DWI.
On top of the penalties that come with all DWI charges, such as attending a DWI education program, installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, and paying a state DWI surcharge of up to $2000 for three years to retain your driver’s license, here are the specific penalties one may face depending on their offense:
- First-Time Offense: As a Class B misdemeanor, a first-time DWI can result in a jail sentence of anywhere from three to 180 days, a $2000 fine, and a suspended license for 90 days to a year.
- Second-Time Offense: As a Class A misdemeanor, a second-time DWI can result in a jail sentence lasting from a month to a year, a $4000 fine, and a suspended license for 180 days to two years.
- Third-Time Offense: As a third degree felony, a third-time DWI is very serious and can result in a jail sentence lasting from two to ten years, a $10,000 fine, and a suspended license for one to two years.
- DWI with Child Passenger: Anyone driving while intoxicated with a passenger under 15 faces child endangerment charges, a $10,000 fine, and a jail sentence of 180 days to two years.
What Should I Keep in Mind if I’m Charged with a DWI?
While drinking and driving should be avoided altogether, there are several things that San Antonio DWI lawyers think you should know if you happen to be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.
- Comply with Chemical Tests: If you’re being arrested for a DWI, it is important that you comply if asked to take a breathalyzer test. While it may be one’s first instinct to refuse a chemical test, this can be used as evidence against an individual in court, and result in a separate process known as Administrative License Revocation that automatically suspends an individual’s license for 180 days for a first offense or two years for a second offense unless an ALR hearing is scheduled. Additionally, all felony DWI charges in San Antonio are subjected to the Texas Mandatory Blood Draw Statute in which an individual must supply a blood sample to the police officer or be subjected to a warrant for said sample.
- Hire a DWI Lawyer Immediately: The best thing to do after you’ve been charged with a DWI is to hire a lawyer right away. Keep your Miranda Rights in mind and know that you should only speak to law enforcement with a lawyer present. You should never admit guilt regardless of the results of a breathalyzer test. A DWI lawyer can advise you on all aspects of your case, and many local San Antonio DWI lawyers offer free 24/7 consultations to answer any questions you have regarding your case.
- San Antonio is Getting Stricter: In an effort to ward off repeat offenders, the Bexar County DA’s office has recently announced that it will accept fewer plea bargains for first-time DWI offenders. Since 2009, Bexar County has been offering many first-time DWI offenders to plead to a lesser obstruction of a highway charge, but with data revealing that about 25% of those who have received obstruction pleas in the past 15 years had blood alcohol concentrations over 0.15 this policy will change in 2023. With local prosecution beginning to hammer down on DWI charges, a highly skilled San Antonio DWI lawyer is essential for residents convicted of a DWI.