DWI Penalties

Any individual who is arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas could possibly face several criminal DWI penalties. Convictions could include a sentence with such punishments as:

  • Steep fines
  • Jail or prison sentences
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for a lengthy time period
  • Community service hours
  • Required attendance at an approved alcohol or drug education program
  • Surcharges for years after a DWI conviction
  • Court costs
  • Fees
  • A driver’s license suspension
  • Hefty fees for reinstating a license
  • A possible permanent criminal record
 

The consequences of drunk driving convictions, however, go far beyond criminal penalties. Convictions for felony DWI charges may mean the loss of the right to own or possess a gun. It can also make you ineligible for public office, lead to voting privileges being revoked, and possible prevention from obtaining certain professional licenses. 

dwi penalties

DWI Defense Lawyer in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, TX

If you were arrested for DWI in Denton, or any of the surrounding areas in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas. Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your alleged offense.

Attorney Richard McConathy can fight to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (940) 222-8004 or contact us online for a consultation about your case.

Denton County DWI Charges

When an individual operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, they can be charged with a DWI under Texas Penal Code § 49.04. You are considered intoxicated when you meet one of the following conditions:

  • Your mental or physical capacity is reduced as a result of alcohol and/or drugs; or
  • Your blood-alcohol content level is 0.08 or greater.

For a first offense, you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor offense. Other kinds of DWI offenses include:

  • Second DWI Offense ― This offense is generally punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Third or subsequent DWI offense ― This offense is generally punishable as a third-degree felony.
  • DWI with a Child Passenger ― This offense is generally punishable as a state jail felony.
  • Flying While Intoxicated ― This offense is generally punishable as a Class B misdemeanor.
  • Boating While Intoxicated ― This offense is generally punishable as a Class B misdemeanor.
  • Intoxication Assault ― This offense is generally punishable as either a third-degree felony or second-degree felony.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter ― This offense is generally punishable as either a second-degree felony or a first-degree felony.
 

DWI Jail or Prison Sentences in Denton

One of the DWI penalties that many people will fear most is the possibility of incarceration. Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code provides maximum and minimum jail and prison sentences for both misdemeanor and felony DWI offenses. 

The following is a list of the minimum and maximum statutory suggested imprisonment for each degree of DWI conviction:

  • Class B misdemeanor ― Up to 180 days in jail
  • Class A misdemeanor ― Up to one year in jail
  • State jail felony ― 180 days to two years in jail
  • Third-degree felony ― Up to 10 years in prison
  • Second-degree felony ― Up to 20 years in prison
  • First-degree felony ― Up to 99 years or life in prison
 

Fines for DWI in Denton County

Monetary penalties are perhaps the most common DWI penalties even when a person is not sentenced to jail or prison. Felony DWI offenses may result in a maximum fine of $10,000.

Class A misdemeanor felony offenses can incur a fine up to $4,000 and Class B misdemeanor offenses can result in a fine of not more than $2,000. Although these are the maximum fines an individual can pay for a DWI conviction, the court may impose additional fines, fees, and costs for various reasons.

Texas Ignition Interlock Device Installation

An ignition interlock device (also called an IID) prevents a person from driving their vehicle if they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their breath. The machine is essentially a breathalyzer, where the individual must blow into the machine to determine their breath-alcohol concentration.

A person must not have any alcohol on their breath to start the car’s ignition. Many ignition interlock devices will also require the driver to submit to what’s called a “rolling retest.” A rolling retest forces the driver to blow into the machine once they’ve started driving. The retest is designed to catch drivers who have consumed alcohol since starting the vehicle.

Texas Penal Code § 49.09(h) requires any person who receives a second or subsequent DWI within five years of the previous DWI offense to install and maintain a “deep-lung” air device, or ignition interlock device, on any car they own or operate. Many courts will also impose an ignition interlock device installation for other DWI offenses or when an individual is on probation for a DWI offense.

Once installed, monthly fees must be paid for calibration and maintenance of the ignition interlocking device. The driver may face additional penalties if they don’t install the device or fail to do so within the necessary timeframe.

Driver’s License Suspensions for DWI in Denton

A DWI conviction can also result in the suspension of a convicted person’s license under Texas Transportation Code § 521.344. The suspension cannot begin before the date of conviction and no later than the 30th day after conviction. 

The following are the statutory driver’s license suspensions for DWI offenses:

  • First DWI offenses ― 90 days to one year
  • Second or subsequent DWI offenses ― 180 days to two years
  • Second or subsequent DWI offenses within five years of the preceding offense ― one to two years
  • Second or subsequent DWI Assault within five years ― 90 days to one plus an additional one year
  • First DWI manslaughter ― 180 days to two years
  • Second or subsequent DWI manslaughter within ten years ― one to two years
  • Under 21 DWI ― one year
 

If an individual does not successfully complete an alcohol education program required by the court, their license can be suspended until the program has been successfully completed.

Surcharges for Denton County DWI Offenses

Texas Transportation Code § 708.102 defines driver’s license surcharges that must be paid following a drunk driving conviction. Surcharges are an administrative fee paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety for certain convictions as reported in the individual’s driving record.

If an individual has been finally convicted of a DWI offense within the preceding three years, they will have to pay a surcharge every year for a period of three years.

Most DWI offenses will be assessed a surcharge of $1,000 per year for a period of three years. However, a second or subsequent DWI conviction within three years of the preceding offense will increase the surcharge to $1,500 per year. If the DWI offender had a high alcohol concentration level of 0.16 or more, they will be required to pay a $2,000 surcharge for three years.

Probation (Community Supervision) for DWI

Instead of spending time in jail or prison, you could be placed on probation (also called “community supervision” in Texas). Probation, usually offered to first-time DWI offenders, is great because you may remain free after a DWI conviction. But if you violate your probation, you could end up behind bars anyway.

Probation is essentially a suspension of your term of incarceration. Probation terms typically range from 6 months to 2 years. Instead of serving a sentence in a correctional institution, you are allowed to continue living your normal life. But there are some restrictions.

You will be asked to submit to random drug and alcohol tests to confirm you’re remaining sober. You will also be required to meet with a probation officer in person on a regular basis.

You will be required to participate in DWI-related educational events, such as taking a class or listening to a speech by a person who lost a loved one to drunk driving. You must also pay a monthly probation supervision fee on top of any court costs and fines imposed as part of your DWI penalties.

If you fail to uphold any of your responsibilities, you could be imprisoned for violating the terms of your probation. Not only that, but you could face additional monetary penalties on top of whatever you’ve already been fined. You may also be required to complete additional community service as part of your sentence.

Denton County Resources for DWI Penalties

Driving Under the Influence | Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) ― Visit this TxDOT website to learn more about DWI offenses in the state. Find information about what is considered legally intoxicated and penalties for DWI. You can also find information about drunk driving with a child passenger and open container laws.

Kuciemba v. State, 310 S.W.3d 460 (2010) ― Julian Kuciemba was found behind the steering wheel, injured and intoxicated, at the scene of a one-car rollover accident, with a blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit. The court of appeals found the evidence to be insufficient to show that the appellant was intoxicated at the time that the accident occurred. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas disagreed and reversed the judgment of the court of appeals. Judge Lawrence Meyers dissented and wrote, “The issue before the Court is whether the State must present direct evidence of a temporal link between driving and intoxication when a defendant is charged with driving while intoxicated. The majority concludes that the circumstantial evidence offered in this case was sufficient to support the Appellant’s conviction. … After viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, I do not see how any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of driving while intoxicated beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence presented in this case is legally insufficient to show that Appellant was ‘intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.’”

Find A Denton County Defense Attorney for DWI Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about a DWI in Denton County in Texas.  Richard McConathy is an experienced criminal defense attorney who will make every effort to find applicable defenses in your particular case to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy right now at (940) 222-8004 or contact us online for a consultation. We also serve the surrounding counties of Collin County, Wise County, Kaufman County, Dallas County, Grayson County, Rockwall County, Johnson County, Ellis County, and Parker County.