DWI / License Suspension

      Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is an offense for which deferred adjudication is not available. In other words, to avoid a criminal conviction on a DWI charge, the case must be dismissed, or the charge must be reduced to a lesser offense, or the verdict at trial must be Not Guilty. The chances of getting a Not Guilty depend on the evidence which usually includes field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests and bodycam and dashcam videos.
      As discussed below, a person with a DWI conviction may be able to get an Order of Nondisclosure. That is a court order keeping the DWI case out of the public records.


Punishment Ranges


License Suspension

      After a police officer stops a driver for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the officer may request a breath, urine or blood test specimen. If the driver refuses, then the Texas Department of Public Safety begins a process of suspending the drivers license.
      If the driver refuses or fails the requested chemical test, the arresting officer will confiscate the license on the spot. The officer will issue a Notice of Suspension that is a temporary driving permit. The driver then has 15 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing and dispute the suspension.
      If the driver does not request a hearing, the license will remain suspended. The suspension lasts for 90 days starting the 41st day after the date of arrest.
      If the driver does request a hearing, the Notice of Suspension allows the driver to continue driving until the driver attends the hearing and receives a final decision. Tex. Transp. Code Ann. Sec. 524.012, 524.022, 524.031, 524.032 (2017). More about the administrative license suspension is found at the DPS website.

      The Department of Public Safety requires anyone convicted of DWI to pay a “surcharge” in order to maintain their driver’s license. The surcharge is for three years after the date of the conviction.
Prior DWI convictions Alcohol ≥ 0.16
$1,000 annually $1,500 annually $2,000 annually
None DWI within 36 months prior

      The range of punishment for a DWI case varies, as shown in the chart below.
First Offense Second Offense Third Offense
Jail Time 3 days to 180 days, or 6 days to 180 days if open container of alcohol in vehicle or (State Jail Felony) 180 days to 2 years if person younger than 15 in vehicle. 30 days to one year or (State Jail Felony) 180 days to 2 years if person younger than 15 in vehicle. 2 to ten years prison
Fines Up to $2,000 or (State Jail Felony) up to $10,000 if person younger than 15 in vehicle Up to $4,000 Up to $10,000
Other Penalties Session Three - Research / Building Clubhouse
License Suspension 90 days to 365 days 180 days to 2 years 180 days to 2 years
Ignition Interlock No Yes Yes