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DWI Penalties

Texas Penal Code § 49.04 states say that any person driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is committing a criminal offense. A driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge has very serious legal consequences under Texas law. Even just a few drinks can land a person with severe legal repercussions in the Austin, Texas area.

A person charged with a DWI may face incarceration, hefty fines, driver’s license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), and numerous DWI programs. DWI charges can be life-altering. If you or someone you know has been arrested with a DWI, it is in your best interest to contact legal representation immediately.

DWI Attorney in Austin, Texas

Texas DWI charges can be overwhelming and legally complex. The penalties that accompany driving while intoxicated charges can affect your professional and personal life. If you or someone you know is facing DWI charges, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett has handled many DWI cases and other traffic-related offenses in the Central Texas area. Kevin Bennett has years of experience in Texas criminal courts. He is dedicated to his client’s rights and passionate about defense. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett has been legally recognized and admitted into several esteemed law associations such as the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association, the Federal Court Western District of Texas, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association. Do not hesitate about your future. Contact The Law Office of Kevin Bennett and have a practiced criminal defense attorney on your side.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett accepts clients all throughout the greater Austin-Round Rock area including surrounding counties such as Georgetown in Williamson County, Lockhart in Caldwell County, Austin in Travis County, Bastrop in Bastrop County, and San Marcos in Hays County.

Let The Law Office of Kevin Bennett guide you through this complicated legal process. Call (512) 476-4626 or submit an online contact form to schedule your free consultation today.

Overview of DWI Penalties in Austin, Texas


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Definition of Driving While Intoxicated under Texas Law

Texas law is not kind to those who are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle. According to the Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.

Additionally, the statute defines the term “intoxicated” in two different classifications.

  • A person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more; or
  • Impaired mental and physical faculties due to compensation of drugs or alcohol.

Note that, for some drivers, the BAC limit is lower. For instance, minors (younger than 21 years of age) are not allowed any trace of alcohol in their system. Additionally, commercial drivers can be charged with a DWI for a BAC of more than .04.

Most law enforcement agencies conduct field sobriety tests or order tests to measure the alleged offender’s blood, breath, or urine. However, an officer does not need these tests to arrest you with a DWI. If law enforcement has probable cause indicating that you are intoxicated, the officer has a right to arrest you.


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DWI Penalties in Texas

The penalties for a DWI are dependent on the circumstances of the arrest and the alleged offender’s criminal record. The following is an overview of penalties for driving while intoxicated in Texas.

ConvictionOffense LevelMaximum FineIncarceration TimeLicense Suspension
1st DWIClass B MisdemeanorUp to $2,00072 Hours – 180 Days90 – 365 Days
2nd DWIClass A MisdemeanorUp to $4,00030 – 365 Days180 Days to 2 Years
3rd DWI3rd Degree FelonyUp to $10,0002 – 10 Years in Prison180 Days to 2 Years
3rd DWI with one prior conviction2nd Degree FelonyUp to $10,0002 – 20 Years in PrisonUp to 2 Years
3rd DWI with two prior convictionsEnhanced FelonyUp to $10,00025 Years – Life ImprisonmentUp to 2 Years

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Enhanced Penalties for DWI

A few circumstances can enhance the legal penalties for a DWI. If an alleged offender did any of the following, their penalties for the DWI may be enhanced.

  • Had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or over 0.15 percent;
  • Having an open container in the car;
  • Having a child younger than 15 years of age in the car;
  • If the DWI is the result of a serious bodily injury; and
  • If the DWI results in another’s death.
ConvictionOffense LevelMaximum FineIncarceration TimeLicense Suspension
1st DWI with a BAC at or over .15Class A MisdemeanorUp to $4,00072 Hours – 1 Year in State Jail90 – 365 Days
1st DWI with an Open ContainerClass B MisdemeanorUp to $2,0006 – 180 Days90 – 365 Days
1st DWI with a Child PassengerState Jail FelonyUp to $10,0006 Months – 2 Years in State Jail90 Days – 2 Years
1st DWI Resulting in Intoxication Assault3rd Degree FelonyUp to $10,0002 – 10 Years in Prison180 Days- 2 Years
1st DWI Resulting in Intoxication Manslaughter2nd Degree FelonyUp to $10,0002 Years – 10 Years in Prison180 Days – 2 Years

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Texas Penalties for Refusing Chemical Testing

Texas drivers do have the right to refuse chemical testing. However, there are legal consequences if you choose to not consent to chemical tests by law enforcement. A driver may have his or her license suspended up to a maximum of two years.

Any Texas driver, who chooses to not submit to chemical testing, has 15 days to file a request for an administrative hearing regarding your suspension. At your hearing, you can dispute your license suspension. During this time period, it is critical to hire a criminal defense attorney to request and evaluate your hearing.

The administrative hearings are conducted by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. If a person misses their 15-day window, their license is automatically suspended 40 days after his or her refusal.


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Restricted License in Texas

Texas law indicates that a person who has been convicted with a DWI can apply to a restricted license, also referred to as a hardship license or occupational license. A restricted license allows drivers with suspended licenses to drive to and from certain places (such as school, work, or pick up children) during their suspension.

A person can obtain a restricted license if they do and qualify the following:

  • File a request with the court that is handling your DWI case;
  • Obtain a court order for a restricted license and other supporting documents to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Pay a ten dollar fee and reinstatement fees

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Additional Resources

Texas Penal Code Title 10 § 49.04 – Visit the Texas Penal Code and read the statutory language for intoxication and alcoholic beverage offenses. See the specifics for DWIs, the adjoining penalties, and the circumstances that can enhance your penalties.

Alcohol-Related Offenses – Visit the website for the Texas Department of Public Safety, and read their citizen’s guide to alcohol-related offenses. Read the casual language surrounding DWIs including their penalties, specifics, and enhanced penalties.


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Find a DWI Lawyer in Austin, Texas

A driving while intoxicated charge can alter your life and future. A person with a squeaky clean criminal record can face possible jail time and large fees. If you or your loved one has been arrested for a DWI charge, it is recommended that you contact The Law Office of Kevin Bennett.

Kevin Bennett is a practiced criminal defense attorney in the larger Austin, Texas area. He has been managing and negotiating DWI and other intoxicated-related offenses in Texas criminal courts for years. Kevin Bennett is compassionate about his client’s situations and wants to do all he can to help you get the best possible results for your DWI case. Do not hesitate when it comes to your legal representation. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett has received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, an organization that vets businesses who are given a score by a council of prestigious professionals. Let a seasoned DWI attorney assist you with your case. Contact a knowledgeable DWI attorney with The Law Office of Kevin Bennett.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett accepts clients in the greater Travis County area and surrounding cities including West Lake Hills, Rollingwood, Austin, San Marcos, Georgetown, Lago Vista, and Sunset Valley.

As a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), The Law Office of Kevin Bennett is familiar with law enforcement officials including the Office of Hays County Sheriff, Austin Police Department, the Office of Travis County Sheriff, San Marcos Police Department, Georgetown Police Department, the Office of Bastrop County Sheriff, Williamson County Sheriff, Lockhart Police Department, and the Caldwell County Sheriff Department.

Contact an attorney who puts you first. Call (512) 476-4626 or submit an online contact form for a free consultation today.

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