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DWI First Offense in Texas (2024) – What You Need to Know

Driving while under the influence of substances impairs your ability to drive safely. It also puts your life and the lives of others around you in danger. As a result, DWIs are not treated lightly by law enforcement or the courts. This can lead to incorrect police work and overzealous charging, resulting in unfair situations that can seem overwhelming to fight. Working with a Houston, Texas DUI attorney can help ensure that the process is navigated effectively and in your interests.

How Is a First-Time DWI Charged?

DWIs are one of the most commonly committed crimes in the United States, but that does not mean that the consequences are not severe. In most instances, a first-time DWI will be charged as a Class B misdemeanor. This can result in a criminal penalty of up to 180 days in county jail and fines of up to $2,000.

A first-time DWI is often punished with the mandatory three days in county jail, but penalties like probation and community service can also be given by the judge. The judge may also require you to attend a state-approved rehab facility or DWI school.

First-Time DWI Civil Penalties

There are further civil consequences of a DWI, which some may consider more severe than the criminal punishments.

  • Administrative License Revocation (ALR)
    If your breath or blood test returns a result of 0.08 or greater, you can lose your driver’s license for up to 90 days.Your license can be suspended for up to 180 days, even if you are not convicted. Due to Texas’ implied consent law, refusing to take a breath or blood test after a law enforcement officer has requested it will result in an automatic license suspension, even if the result is below the legal limit.Either during the arrest or after law enforcement gets your test results, you will be given a Notice of Suspension. You have 15 days after you receive this notice to request a hearing, or the suspension will begin 40 days after receiving your notice.
  • License Reinstatement Fee
    Following a license suspension, you must pay a reinstatement fee of $125.

First-Time DWI Enhancing Factors

A Class B misdemeanor is not necessarily what you will be charged with; it is simply the minimum level of charge. This means that 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000 may not be the actual maximum penalty for your situation. Enhancing factors are conditions that, when present, will increase the potential penalties you are facing.

Some enhancing factors for a first-time DWI include:

  • A Passenger Under the Age of 15
    If you are arrested for a DWI while you have a passenger in your vehicle who is under the age of 15 (even if the minor is your own child), the offense immediately increases from a misdemeanor to a felony. This elevated charge carries a fine reaching $10,000 and a possible 180 days to 2 years in a state jail.
  • Blood Alcohol Content of 0.15 and Above
    If the results of a blood or breath test are a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.15 or over, the charge you are facing can be increased to a Class A misdemeanor. The penalty for this charge is up to a year in county jail and fines of up to $4,000.
  • Intoxicated Assault
    If you cause a serious injury while operating a motor vehicle impaired, the charge becomes a third-degree felony. This carries a punishment of between 2 and 10 years in state jail and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Intoxicated Manslaughter
    If you cause a death while choosing to operate a vehicle while intoxicated, the charge elevates to a second-degree felony. This means that the penalty will be between 2 and 20 years in a state prison and/or fines reaching up to $10,000.

Any enhancing factors in your DWI arrest seriously elevate the potential penalties that you are facing. Speaking with an experienced DWI attorney can significantly improve the outcome you will experience in your case.


Q: What Are Potential Defenses for a First-Time DWI Charge?

A: There are several potential defenses against a DWI charge, even if your situation seems especially bleak. If you were not given an opportunity to speak with a lawyer during the DUI investigation, or the traffic stop that led to the DWI arrest was illegal, your rights were violated, and any evidence collected cannot be used in the case. The breath test or field sobriety test could also be inaccurate, further negating any evidence collected.

Q: What Happens After a First-Time DWI Arrest?

A: In Houston, Texas, it is not uncommon for individuals with no prior record to be arrested for a first-time DWI, so you may be unsure of the process. Once an arrest has been made, you will go through booking and processing at the police station. Following booking, you may have the opportunity to post bail.

Q: Can a First-Time DWI Conviction Be Expunged?

A: It is not currently possible for a DWI conviction to be expunged from your criminal record, but some DWI arrests and convictions can be sealed. This is due to the Texas Second Chance Law of 2017. If you were arrested for a DWI but not convicted, it is possible for the charges to be expunged from your record.

Q: Should I Hire an Attorney If I Have Been Arrested for a DWI?

A: It is almost always recommended to retain an attorney if you are facing DWI charges. Speaking with an experienced Texas DUI attorney could improve the outcome of your current situation. They can find possible solutions to have your charges dismissed or reduced. Relationships with the prosecution and judge may also help them craft a plea bargain that will be accepted.

Fighting a First-Time DWI Offense

The consequences of a first-time DWI are more lenient than subsequent DWIs, but they can still be life-altering. Regardless of the circumstances of your arrest, it is vital that you work with a committed Texas DUI attorney throughout the process. Even if you did make the mistake of driving while intoxicated, you still deserve an attorney who can work for your interests.

The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, can critically evaluate your case, thoroughly evaluating the unique facts and circumstances to create a compelling defense. With our team’s extensive experience and professional resources, it is possible to avoid a conviction or minimize its penalties. If you or a loved one is facing a first-time DWI arrest, reach out to our office for a consultation today.

Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC