The flashing lights of a squad are fear inducing. You immediately start questioning what you did. Was I driving too fast? Will those one or two drinks while watching the game put me over the limit? You need to know your rights.
First off, never volunteer any information. It's more often than not the case that you will be arrested if an officer smells the odor of alcohol. What are the penalties of a drunk driving conviction in Texas? Why do you quickly need to bring in the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney? We'll explain in this post.
A charge for driving while intoxicated is generally a Class B misdemeanor that carries a minimum sentence of two days in jail. The maximum jail sentence on a first DWI conviction is not a joke - it can be up to six months. Certain factors can add to the minimum jail sentence, such as an open container, a BAC of .15 or more and prior convictions.
But the prosecutor has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle. Various defenses may apply. Did the officer have a reasonable suspicion to stop you? Was an error made in the case? It usually takes a review by a defense attorney to identify and raise these issues.
In addition to jail time, driving while intoxicated comes with stiff financial penalties. Even if it is your first offense. Fines apply up to:
- $2,000 - first offense
- $4,000 - second offense
- $10,000 - third offense.
When fines aren't paid, additional penalties or jail time are possible.
License suspension: How will you get to work?
You can expect to lose your license for at least three months after a DWI conviction. Texas laws allow for license suspensions of up to one year for the first offense and up to two years for the second and third offense. The amount of time to challenge a suspension is often very limited.
If you or a loved one is charged with a DWI, do not waste time. You need legal advice tailored to your circumstances. Working with an experienced criminal defense who knows the local courthouse is the only way to limit the damage.