What To Know if You're Arrested for a DWI in Texas

The penalties and how to fight a conviction in Texas

By Lindsay Kramer | Last updated on January 19, 2023

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If you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI), first of all, don’t panic. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be convicted. There are ways to fight a DWI charge, and yours might just be dismissed. Even if you gave a breath test or blood test that indicated you were over the limit, DWI attorney Deandra M. Grant says you may still be able to challenge the DWI conviction. “You can look at the warrant and that everything was done properly. We have a lot of issues with our labs here, so it doesn’t mean it’s an accurate number. We sometimes have blood retested at a different lab. We have a lot of police officers who get in trouble and may not be sponsored as witnesses. There are a lot of things to look at in a DWI case other than what happened.” The legal blood alcohol concentration limit for Texas drivers is 0.08 percent. Individuals impaired by other substances, such as illegal and prescription drugs, can also be arrested for DWI. Generally, law enforcement officers pull over any vehicles that appear to be swerving in and out of lanes, ignoring posted traffic signs, and failing to maintain their speed. An officer may then ask a driver to complete a field sobriety test to demonstrate their impairment, along with a Breathalyzer test.

Know Your Rights

You have the right to work with an experienced DWI defense attorney to fight your drunk driving charge. After you are arrested, contact an experienced DWI lawyer as soon as possible to start working on your legal defense strategy. Possible defenses to a DWI charge include:
  • You were not read your Miranda Rights;
  • You were not pulled over with probable cause;
  • The Breathalyzer used to measure your BAC was miscalibrated or defective; and
  • Your Breathalyzer test displayed incorrect results due to your consumption of food or medication.
“You have a limited amount of time to request a hearing on whether your driver’s license is going to be suspended or not, so you really need to get in touch with an attorney soon—like a week within getting arrested. If you don’t request it, an automatic suspension may go into effect,” says Grant, who practices in Richardson. As with many other areas of the law, DWI defense has its own set of technicalities and deadlines, Grant says. “You need somebody who regularly handles DWIs and goes to trial on them because they can spot the problems. You really want someone who’s knowledgeable in that area.” If you’d like more general information about this area of the law, see our DUI/DWI law overview.

Penalties for Texas DWI

The penalties you can face for a DWI conviction depend on a few factors: 1) whether this is your first offense DWI, 2) whether there was a child in your car when you were pulled over. For a first time DWI conviction, an individual faces the following penalties:
  • $2,000 fine;
  • Jail time of three to 180 days;
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to one year; and
  • An annual surcharge of $1,000 or $2,000 to retain one’s driver’s license for three years.
For an individual’s second DWI conviction, the penalties are:
  • A jail term of one month to one year;
  • $4,000 fine;
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to two years; and
  • An annual surcharge of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 to retain one’s driver’s license for three years.
For a third DWI offense, the penalties are steeper yet. If there was a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle when the driver was pulled over, he or she can face a child endangerment charge and penalties that include a $10,000 fine, up to two years in jail, and a driver’s license suspension for up to 180 days.

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