The Penalties for DWI in Houston
Regardless of whether or not a DWI is your first offense, you want a good defense lawyer in Houston who understands the severity of the charges and can work to get you the best results possible. The very reason that you want to fight your first offense so strongly is that the sentences gets significantly worse on second and third offenses.
A first offense DWI, if there’s not a test involved, is a Class B misdemeanor. The punishment includes up to 6 months in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Now, if there is a test involved and your blood alcohol level (BAC) is .15 or above, then the charge is bumped to a Class A misdemeanor. In this case, the punishment goes up to a possible $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
If it’s a second offense DWI, it’s the same punishment range as the Class A misdemeanor described above. However, if you are convicted on the second offense for DWI then you are looking at a possible third degree felony charge if it happens again.
If you are facing third degree felony charges, then you are looking at a minimum 2 years in prison, with a maximum of 10 years, and you can get a $10,000 fine on top of that.
If there are any injuries involved in a DWI charge — for instance, a serious bodily injury — it could be a DWI first, then something else called intoxication assault. Intoxication assault charges also carry the same sentencing as a third degree felony. Heaven-forbid, someone is killed in a DWI, then you’re looking at what is called intoxication manslaughter and the punishment is a minimum of 2 years, to a potential 20 years, in prison.
There’s one other DWI-related offense to take note of: DWI with a child. DWI lawyers in Houston, and all over Texas, understand the severity of that charge as a state jail felony. If you have a minor in the vehicle while you’re driving and you get arrested for DWI, then you are looking at a possible state jail felony. What some people may not know is that there are severe, long-term ramifications with a felony. You lose your right to vote, you can’t possess a firearm, and of course, many companies won’t hire you.
So, even though it may not initially sound like a life-altering charge, a DWI is a very significant offense because of the collateral consequences that come along with it.