DWI / DUI Law

In Texas, a first-time DWI conviction is a class B misdemeanor, punishable between 72 hours and 6 months in jail and up to a $2000 fine. See Texas Penal Code § 49.04. A second DWI conviction is a class A misdemeanor, punishable between 30 days and a year in jail and up to a $4000 fine. § 49.09(a). A third DWI conviction is a third degree felony, punishable between 2 and 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. § 49.09(b). In addition to criminal punishment, a DWI defendant in Texas may be subjected to a driver's license suspension and substantial surcharge if convicted. Texas Transportation Code § 521.341; see Driver’s License Suspensions and DWI Surcharges.

Despite these dramatic punishment ranges, most convicted DWI defendants do not go to jail or prison. Rather, they are placed on probation, or community supervision. See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 42.12. A first-time adult DWI defendant in Travis or Williamson County may expect to receive a supervision period of 12 to 24 months, with a fine of $200-$1000 and court costs of $200-$400. Conditions of probation will include monthly meetings with a probation officer, alcohol counseling, community service (usually between 48 and 60 hours), no criminal activity, travel restrictions, and supervisory fees of $60 per month. Art 42.12 § 11. A minor (under 21 years of age) may expect these terms as well as the installation of a breath analysis device (“interlock”) on his or her motor vehicle. Art. 42.12 § 13(n). A defendant who provided an alcohol specimen showing an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more must install an interlock device as well. Art. 42.12 § 13(i).

A first-time defendant who opts for jail time instead of probation can expect to receive a jail sentence somewhere between 3 days and 60 days. With the usual 2 days’ credit for each day served and credit for the day or days spent in jail on the original arrest, the actual time served will be less than half of the stated sentence. The sentence possibly can be served on weekends or in a work release program. The non-probated conviction will carry a suspension of driving privileges between 3 months and a year. See Driver’s License Suspensions and DWI Surcharges.

The forecast is considerably brighter for the DWI / DUI defendant whose case is “reduced”. Here, the defense attorney convinces the prosecutor to dismiss the DWI and file an alternate charge. A common substitute offense is reckless driving, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $200.00 fine. See Texas Transportation Code § 545.401. This defendant may expect a short jail sentence, perhaps even a “time-served” sentence that is satisfied by the time the defendant served in jail on the original arrest. In the alternative, the defendant may be placed on community supervision, usually for 12-18 months. Deferred adjudication probation is available, leaving open the possibility of a petition for an order of nondisclosure of criminal records upon successful completion of the supervision. Another common substitute offense is obstructing a highway or public passageway, a class B misdemeanor. See Texas Penal Code § 42.03. Here again, a short jail sentence or deferred adjudication probation is possible.

If convicted, a second offender may well get probation but the conditions will be tougher. The period of supervision likely will be two years. The fine will be higher, as will the number of community service hours. More alcohol or drug counseling will be required, including the possibility of an intensive outpatient program. Unless the previous offense was committed more than 10 years before the current offense, the defendant must install an interlock device on his or her vehicle for at least half the period of supervision. See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 42.12 § 13(i). If the previous offense was committed within 5 years of the current offense, the defendant must serve at least 5 days in the county jail as a condition of the probation; if not, the law requires a minimum of 72 hours of continuous confinement in the county jail as a condition of supervision. Art. 42.12 § 13(a)(1). A prosecutor may want more jail time than that, depending on the circumstances of the case. The maximum jail time that can be imposed as a condition of misdemeanor probation is 30 days. Art. 42.12 § 12(a).

Upon conviction a third offender likely is facing felony probation with even more stringent conditions. The period of supervision could be up to 10 years. The fine might range up to $2500.00 and community service hours could increase to several hundred hours. See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 42.12 § 16. The counseling could include an inpatient program, a local residential treatment facility, or the substance abuse felony program (SAFP), consisting of confinement and treatment for up to a year in a facility operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Art. 42.12 § 14. An interlock device is mandatory. Art. 42.12 § 13(i). The defendant must serve at least 10 days in the county jail as a condition of probation, and very well could serve 30 days or more. Art. 42.12 § 13(a)(1). The maximum jail time that can be imposed as a condition of felony probation is 180 days. Art. 42.12 § 12(a).


Print Bookmark

Contact Us


















Board Certified Criminal Specialist


AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell


Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer Fee Arrangement


Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer, Blog
home | attorney profile | practice areas | faqs | Testimonials | articles | contact info | fee arrangement | traffic stops | legal links | resources
Copyright © 2008 by Ian Inglis. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement. 1012 Rio Grande St, Austin, Texas 78701. (512) 472-1950
Anderson Mill | Buda | Cedar Park | Georgetown | Jollyville | Kyle | Lakeway | Leander | Lockhart | Pflugerville | Round Rock | Travis County | Taylor | Westlake
Find us on Google+ | Ian Inglis+