Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “Two days ago it was my birthday and I went out with some of my friends. I had a few beers and a few shots. I thought I was fine to drive, but I was stopped and arrested for DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.09%. I am wondering if I should just plead guilty to my first time DWI, and if I do, will I be sent to jail? I live in the State of Texas.”
What is a DWI?
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in every state. The per se legal limit is 0.08%, but drivers can also be arrested and charged with DUI or DWI (in Texas) if their blood alcohol concentration is lower, assuming the state has sufficient evidence to prove they were not able to safely operate their vehicle.
Given that thousands of drivers and passenger die each year in DUI related accidents, law makers and other lobbying groups have pushed for strong DUI laws and penalties over the last thirty years. While this may or may not mean that you will go to jail with after your first DUI conviction, even if you don’t, it could mean that you would receive other high fines and penalties that can be very serious.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at common DUI penalties you might receive after a first time DWI in Texas.
First time DWI penalties in Texas
If you are charged with a first time DWI in Texas you can receive the following fines and penalties:
- Fines up to $2,000
- Spend between three and 180 days in jail
- License suspension for up to two years
- Charged an annual surcharge for as much as $2,000 to keep your license for three years
- Potentially be forced to install an ignition interlock device on your car
- Potentially be required to attend a DWI intervention or education program
Will I go to jail for first time DWI in Texas?
As you can see from the list outlined above, even if you do not go to jail, a first time DWI in Texas is going to be costly. In addition to the listed penalties, it’s also unlikely you will be able to have your first time DWI conviction expunged, which means it will show up on your criminal record forever.
So will you go to jail for a first time DWI? Probably not. In fact, most Texas drivers arrested for their first time DWI in Texas will be offered probation and will avoid jail time. Under a common scenario, the prosecution might offer you probation for 18 to 24 months or up to 180 days in jail. If you chose probation, however, you would be expected to complete community service and attend an alcohol education training course.
Bottom line: If you want to plead guilty, take your penalties, and not fight the DWI charges, you may not need a lawyer. It might not even be that tough to avoid jail without hiring a lawyer. If you want to fight the charges or get the best plea deal, however, talk to a DUI lawyer who understand the laws in Texas.
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