Are you worried about your DWI 1st offense? If the arrest happened in the past 6 months or a year, you may not have any information regarding your charges.
This will typically cause stress and anxiety as you don’t know what to expect or if you can move on with your life. Luckily, first offense DWI charges are straightforward: we’re going to explain what you can anticipate.
Keep reading for more information!
A DWI 1st Offense is Serious
There are 1.5 million people who face DWI charges each year in the United States. As common as this charge is, it is still a serious one as one judge may be far more lenient than another. Additionally, Texas is known to have harsh penalties for even a first offense.
People love to talk about how they ‘beat’ their DWI. Although this sentiment may offer hope, don’t get the idea that your charge will be dismissed.
The truth is, a DWI in Texas will cost you money and time, even with the lightest sentence and best representation. You will likely face several some or all of the below administrative penalties:
- A jail sentence ranging between 3 and 180 days
- Fines up to $2,000
- Annual fees to retain your driver’s license
- License suspension
Unfortunately, the judge can also assign community service, alcohol education, driving classes, an interlock device to be installed, or even AA meetings.
With all of this said, typically, a first-offense DWI in Texas is not a felony.
Enhancing the Charge
Getting a drunk driving charge isn’t the worst charge possible. Causing an accident with injuries, being caught with a minor in the vehicle, or killing another driver or passenger will change the nature of the DWI.
Each of these stipulations will result in your DWI being upgraded to a felony. A minor being present can result in higher fines and up to two years in jail.
Serious injuries resulting from a DWI may carry penalties of up to 10 years and death can mean up to 20 years in prison. Of course, these will also carry higher fines.
High Blood-Alcohol Content
Another issue that can complicate your charge is a high blood-alcohol content (BAC.) The legal limit is 0.08 and a BAC of 0.15 is considered ‘high.’
Unfortunately, reaching a BAC of 0.15 is easy to do—you may reach it after a few drinks over the course of a night out with friends. When a chemical test proves that your BAC is over 0.15, your first offense DWI can be upgraded from a ‘class B’ to a ‘class A’ misdemeanor.
This escalation will mean the potential for higher fines, a longer suspension, and more jail time. Also, the judge will be less likely to be lenient in assigning community service and other penalties.
With a BAC of 0.15 or higher, you can expect to have an interlock device installed. Although this can happen with lower BAC results, it becomes mandatory in these cases.
Typically, this device must remain in your car for six months to one year. You can also face other charges if you are caught driving a vehicle without it.
Minors & DWI
The law gets even tougher for people under the age of 21. Because of the legal drinking age, it is understood that young people shouldn’t be drinking, and definitely shouldn’t be drinking and driving.
With this said, the legal BAC limit for someone who 20 years of age or younger is 0.02. This means that even taking a few sips of wine with dinner can place you at risk for a DWI if you are a minor (under 21).
If you happen to be between the ages of 17 and 20, your case will likely be treated as an adult’s. For people under the age of 17, you can expect a ‘class C’ misdemeanor, smaller fines, and some community service.
Beating a DWI
Although your friends may tell you that you can ‘beat’ a DWI charge alone, the chances of winning your case without representation are small. Fighting any criminal case is a lengthy process and doing so alone is never ideal.
An experienced attorney can formulate a plan of defense when it comes to DWI charges.
Aside from minimizing penalties for cases that include injuries or death, an attorney can also find any technicalities in your case that are grounds for dismissal.
These technicalities are usually few and far between but may include the calibration of the breathalyzer, training of the arresting officer, and if the officer read your Miranda Rights. All of which are difficult to prove on your own.
The chances of the charge being completely dismissed are slim, however, you may find yourself with a decent plea bargain or a lighter sentence. In cases of a high BAC, your attorney may even ask for the sentence that is given for lower blood-alcohol content levels.
Truthfully, the best way to beat a DWI in Texas is to never get one. Choose a designated driver, rideshare program, or to not drink at all.
Hiring an Attorney
You probably see and hear advertisements for legal representation all over town. When you search for attorneys in Texas, hundreds come up.
Unfortunately, not all lawyers are equal. Some charge far more for their services, while others charge very little but won’t truly fight for you. Others may treat you as a criminal or lecture you about your decisions.
Whatever the case is, these lawyers are not who you want to represent you. Ideally, an attorney will view your case as a mistake, fight for a light (or at least fair) sentence, and charge a fair price.
If you are in need of legal representation that will treat you fairly and will fight for the best outcome of your DWI 1st offense, contact us for a free consultation.