First Offense DWI Penalties by Bo Kalabus

The Great State of Texas employs both criminal and administrative penalties for offenders convicted of a first DWI in Texas. In certain instances, case-specific factors, such as presence of minor in vehicle or extreme BAC, may influence the nature of sentencing terms as well. The following outlines the potential penalties associated with conviction of first offense DWI in Texas for adult drivers.

Administrative Penalties
• First offense arrest under suspicion of DWI initiates process of administrative license suspension, which involves minimum suspension period of ninety (90) days if the driver consents to a breath or blood alcohol test and fails said test, unless otherwise successfully contested;
• Refusals to submit to breath or blood tests under implied consent laws carry mandatory license suspension of one hundred and eighty (180) days; and
• License reinstatement for first offense does not require completion of alcohol/substance abuse screening, nor are drivers required to utilize ignition interlock devices, unless specifically ordered by courts, which does happen.

Criminal Penalties
• First offense convictions of DWI in Texas carry minimum incarceration of three (3) days with maximum of one hundred and eighty (180) days. Elevating factors and associated penalties include first offense with minor (person under age of 15) present carries incarceration ranging from one hundred and eighty (180) days to two (2) years;
• Fines not in excess of $2,000 applicable to regular DWI cases in Texas, but if minor present, fine maximums increased to not more than $10,000;
• State of Texas also employs surcharge program for DWI offenders, which requires payment of $1,000 annually for three (3) years for offenders as part of DWI surcharge program. If BAC higher than .16, surcharges are increased to $2,000 annually for period of three (3) years; and
• Convictions remain on the driver’s record forever and can enhance punishments if the person gets another DWI in the future.


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