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What Do I Need to Know About a First Offense DWI in Texas?

If you have been arrested and charged with a first offense DWI in Texas, you probably feel scared and uncertain about the future. Texas has strict laws on how to deal with individuals convicted of driving while under the influence (DWI). Even a first offense DWI can have long-lasting negative repercussions and make it challenging to achieve your life goals.

A DWI conviction can cause your license to be suspended and remain on your permanent criminal record, making it more challenging to find gainful employment.

Therefore, immediately hiring an experienced DWI defense attorney is in your best interest. Many issues, such as whether your driver’s license will be suspended, are time-sensitive. The Texas criminal justice system can be confusing and difficult to navigate independently.

For this reason, you must have a criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience handling DWI cases who is not afraid to fight for your rights. Contact our law office to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we may be able to assist you.

Is There a Way to Avoid Jail Time For a First Offense DWI?

Many individuals charged with a Texas first offense DWI may not realize the gravity of their situation. Those arrested for a first-offense DWI often have no previous criminal charges or convictions and are unfamiliar with the Texas criminal justice system. Nevertheless, the State of Texas is serious in its desire to keep those on the roadways safe.

As a result, depending on the circumstances involved in the case, even first time DWI offenders could face the possibility of time in jail. A first offense DWI is typically charged as a Class B misdemeanor. A defendant could face up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted. Additionally, unless a defendant is granted probation, they could be ordered to serve three days in jail.

Additionally, other factors could complicate a first offense DWI, such as whether the accused had a passenger under the age of 15 in the car at the time of the arrest. If true, the charge would be upgraded to a felony, which could lead to a considerable amount of time in jail.

Because of the complex nature of DWIs in Texas, you must hire an experienced DWI defense attorney who can help you understand the legal process and what you can do to protect your rights.

Will My Driver’s License Be Suspended For a First Offense DWI?

One of the biggest fears for anyone arrested for a DWI is whether their driver’s license will be suspended. Even a first offense DWI can result in license suspension, making it difficult to get back and forth to work and other essential activities.

Under Texas law, anyone charged with DWI automatically faces a driver’s license suspension. Often, defendants mistakenly believe that their license is automatically suspended from the moment they are arrested.

A first offense, DWI may result in the accused’s driver’s license being suspended for three months to one year. However, the suspension does not take effect until approximately 40 days from the date of the arrest. Therefore, individuals must request what is known as an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of the incident. The ALR hearing is the only chance individuals have to contest their license potentially being suspended.

If Texas suspends your driver’s license, you may be eligible to obtain an occupational driver’s license valid to go back and forth to work, school, and essential activities.

One of the most critical steps you must take after being arrested for a DWI in Texas is hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer to represent you in the ALR hearing. Your lawyer can subpoena the arresting officer for the ALR civil hearing so they can disseminate more information they can use for your defense in criminal court.

What Criminal Penalties Can I Expect For a First Offense DWI?

Most first offense DWI cases are charged as a Class B misdemeanor. Individuals may be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $2,000. Unless the judge grants you probation, you will be ordered to serve three days of jail time.

However, specific legal factors can lead to enhanced penalties for those who put other’s lives at risk when driving while intoxicated. Even if this is a first offense DWI, aggravating factors can lead to more charges being upgraded. Aggravating factors include:

  • Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15% or greater: If your BAC registers at .15% or greater, the charge is increased to a Class A misdemeanor with a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
  • DWI with a passenger under 15: If a minor under the age of 15 was present in the vehicle at the time of your DWI arrest, the charges are automatically upgraded to a felony. The criminal penalties include a sentence of up to 180 days to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Why is it Important to Hire a DWI Defense Attorney?

You must have qualified legal representation if you have been arrested for a Texas first offense DWI. Often, defendants unfamiliar with the penalties and consequences of a DWI conviction make the mistake of pleading guilty.

However, a DWI conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life and is not eligible to be expunged unless the charges were appealed, dismissed, or adjudicated.

As a result, individuals dealing with DWI charges must have an experienced attorney on their side who can advise them of their rights and legal options.

Our legal team is committed to assisting clients by working closely with the prosecution to try and have the charges reduced or possibly dismissed. However, if necessary, our criminal defense lawyer is prepared to take your case to trial and clear your name.

Contact the Cory Roth Law Office of Houston, TX, at 832-400-4133 to schedule a consultation.

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