DWI 1st Punishment in Texas

A DWI 1st in Texas is costly. There are 2 types of DWI 1st: Class A when the blood alcohol is 0.15 or above or a Class B when the alcohol level is below 0.15 or there is no finding of an alcohol level.These punishment ranges are explained below and then there is a discussion of the terms of probation if it happens. 

  • Fine – A fine not to exceed $2,000.

  • Jail – Confinement in the County Jail for a term of not less the 72 hours nor more that six (6) months. Open Container– If there was an open container of alcohol in your car when arrested, the minimum term of confinement is six (6) days in the county jail.

  • Community Service – Texas law mandates that a judge order not less than 24 hours nor more than 100 hours.

If convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor, your sentence could be:

  • up to 1 year in jail
  • up to a $4,000 fine.

Absent unusual facts, most persons convicted of a first offense DWI are granted community supervision (“probation”) of any confinement ordered. The general length of DWI probation is from 1-2 years. There are also conditions of community supervision ordered that are fairly standard in most courts. Typical conditions imposed are:

  • Drug/Alcohol Evaluation (SAE)– A person convicted of DWI will be required to submit to evaluation for probability of committing DWI in the future and/or to disclose a potential problem with alcohol or drug abuse. If a problem is detected, additional terms and conditions of probation are ordered to be administered through the Community Supervision Department. I recommend that my clients do this before plea, because it’s completion helps me negotiate a more favorable plea bargain and avoid an unpleasant surprise that sometimes occurs after probation begins, so it is too late to take steps to avoid additional rehab that might not actually be necessary.

  • Attend and complete an approved DWI Education class within 180 days from the date of conviction (Satisfying this requirement will avoid the one (1) year drivers license suspension, unless if you were a minor (under 21) at the time of the offense.) This can be done before the plea, which helps in plea bargaining. Also, it better prepares my clients to understand and manage the realities of probation, the court process and other DWI issues.

  • Attend and complete a Victim Impact Panel(VIP) This is a forum that presents victim(s) of drunk drivers to address persons convicted of DWI and warn of the dangers and perils of driving while intoxicated. This is available online in some counties {need to check before enrollment}, but Collin County has an excellent teacher available that my clients have praised as well worth the time.

  • Work faithfully at suitable employment, commit no other crimes, remain at the same residence and employment unless notification is given to the community supervision officer, report monthly to the supervision office, pay all fines and costs in a timely manner.

Here are the terms of a standard DWI 1st Probation

  • Commit no other crimes
  • Pay all Fines and Court Costs (payment schedules are allowed)
  • Fines generally run around $800 to $1,500
  • Court costs generally run around $300 to $450
  • Report to Probation once a month for 18 to 24 months
  • Pay $60 a month in Probation Fees ($60 x 18 = $1,080)
  • Take a 12 hour DWI Education Program ($150)
  • Attend a MADD Victim Impact Panel (VIP)($50)
  • Take a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation ($50-150)
  • 24 to 40 hours of Community Service Restitution ($50)
  • Pay $25 to Crime Stoppers
  • Do not leave the State without Permission
  • Do not spend the night outside of your home county without approval
  • Do not move (relocate) without court permission
  • Submit to periodic drug testing (about $35 per test)*
  • Consume no alcohol*
  • Pay a monthly supervisory fee.

In some cases:

  • Keep an Interlock Device in your vehicle ($80 per month)**
  • Have a SCRAM device on your leg ($360 a month)*

And of course, if you failed in any one of these requirements, you could be made to serve up to 180 days in jail. With all of these conditions of probation, can you see why jail looks good to some people?

NOTE: If convicted, you will be given an Order Granting Probation. This Order will be specific and unique to your case and fully sets forth the terms and conditions of your probation which apply to you. It is the blueprint for your probation.

Additional Conditions of Probation that may be Ordered:

If your case presents unusual facts (accident, alcohol problem, prior alcohol contacts, bad driving record etc.), additional conditions may be ordered. Most conditions are designed to address a problem that appears from the facts or alcohol/drug evaluation that is performed on the subject after conviction. Again, a specific order is given after each conviction. The following list is only a general discussion of conditions that have been imposed in some DWI cases in my experience and may not apply to you.

  • Ignition Interlock Device – This provision requires that you install and maintain a device on any car which you intend to drive during probation. The device requires a breath sample before it will allow your car to start. Some devices require periodic breaths while driving. This condition is sometimes recommended after an unfavorable drug/alcohol evaluation during a first-offense probation and is always ordered in a high blood test (0.15+) or a subsequent offense arrest as a condition of bond and probation.

  • Alcohol Treatment – Attendance at AA or other counseling programs offered through the probation department. In extreme cases, outpatient programs may be ordered. This condition is recommended after an unfavorable drug/alcohol evaluation.

  • Consume no alcohol – Most courts require that a person not consume any alcohol during probation. This provision is monitored by periodic and random urinalysis at the probation office. Some courts will not even allow a probationer to enter a bar, tavern or lounge where alcohol is sold and consumed.

  • Confinement – Again, in some extreme circumstances, the Court may order that a DWI 1st offender to serve confinement in the county jail as a condition of being granted probation.

  • Restitution – If there was an accident followed by a DWI arrest, and if your insurance company has not paid damages to the other party, restitution of any unpaid amounts will be ordered by the Court as a condition of probation. The DA has a duty to consult with the other party to a collision, so this can sometimes delay the plea. It is a good strategy to provide proof of the insurance settlement as soon as possible after DA is assigned the case, so this hurdle can be cleared.

*Not required by most judges on a DWI 1st

**Required by state law as a condition of any probation with breath or blood tests scores of 0.15 or higher, although the judge has the option of removing it after half of your probation for good behavior.