Home to the River Walk and the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas, welcomes millions of visitors every year from around the United States and abroad.
Unfortunately, some visitors find themselves facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Texas law enforcement agencies take drunk driving allegations very seriously. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, one person in Texas dies every eight hours and 31 minutes in an alcohol-related accident.
During the 2021 spring break holiday, Texas saw 872 alcohol-related traffic accidents. To reduce the number of these incidents, charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) carry severe penalties.
If you are facing drunk driving charges, whether it is your first DWI charge or second, reach out to a San Antonio DWI lawyer immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine what your options are.
Get in touch with the Austin Hagee Law Firm team now to have our DWI lawyers in San Antonio start working on your case right away.
Texas DWI Cheat Sheet
DWI Under Texas Law
Texas Penal Code, Sec. 49.04 outlaws the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated. In Texas, “intoxicated” means the driver:
- Has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more, or
- Lacks the normal use of mental or physical facilities due to the ingestion of drugs or alcohol.
A DWI conviction can not only affect your criminal record, but can also lead to thousands of dollars in court costs and fines.
Typically, a DWI charge qualifies as a Class B misdemeanor and carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 72 hours.
If the driver had an open container of alcohol in their immediate possession, the minimum jail sentence increases to six days.
In addition to the mandatory jail sentence, a Class B misdemeanor carries the potential of a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of up to 180 days.
If the driver’s BAC was 0.15% or more, the DWI qualifies as a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor in Texas carries a maximum potential jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000.
Your options to fight against a DWI charge depend on your unique situation. A qualified San Antonio DWI attorney can meet with you to discuss your drunk driving charges and the circumstances of your arrest.
Texas law outlines several offenses that may be charged alongside DWI or instead of DWI.
If a child under 15 was a passenger in the car, the offense is a state jail felony. A state jail felony is punishable by imprisonment between 180 days and two years and a fine of up to $10,000.
All are Class B misdemeanors with minimum confinement of 72 hours, a maximum jail term of 180 days, and a fine of up to $2,000.
Assembling or operating an amusement ride with an open container adds six days to the minimum term of confinement. The same rule does not apply to flying or boating while intoxicated.
If, during the course of DWI or a DWI-equivalent offense, you disfigure another person or injure them in a way that causes a substantial risk of death, you commit “intoxication assault.”
Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony is punishable by imprisonment between 2 and 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Finally, you commit “intoxication manslaughter” if you cause another person’s death while committing DWI or a DWI-related offense and your intoxication is the reason the person was killed. Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony.
A second-degree felony is punishable by imprisonment between 2 and 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Multiple DWI or DWI-Related Offenses
If you were convicted of DWI or an equivalent offense once before and are charged with DWI or an equivalent offense a second time, it is a Class A misdemeanor.
A second DWI or equivalent offense carries a minimum jail term of 30 days, which can be extended up to 365 days.
If you are again charged with DWI or an equivalent offense after two or more previous DWI or equivalent offense convictions, a new charge is a third-degree felony.
Defenses to DWI
The best defense to a DWI charge is almost always a factual defense built upon the circumstances of the case. Some common defenses include:
- Improper stop—the police must have a valid reason to suspect a crime or traffic violation is occurring to pull you over;
- Technical errors—machines used to test BAC are often unreliable or improperly maintained; and
- Flawed testing—police often use field sobriety tests to evaluate a person’s level of impairment, but these tests are frequently unreliable due to improper administration or environmental factors.
The DWI attorneys in San Antonio, TX, at Austin Hagee Law Firm, can determine whether a legal defense applies to your case that may warrant getting your charges reduced or dismissed.
When Do I Need To Hire A Dwi Lawyer In San Antonio, Tx?
If you have been charged with DWI, hiring an experienced lawyer is always a good idea.
Navigating the criminal justice system on your own can be stressful and intimidating. You may not know your rights or options to defend against the charge.
Having an experienced DWI lawyer that will work with you to design a case strategy can help you minimize the effect a DWI charge has on your life now and in the future.
A skilled DWI attorney can help you avoid a driver’s license suspension, high Texas DPS surcharges for a DWI conviction, and potential negative consequences for your career.
Contact a San Antonio DUI/DWI Attorney at Austin Hagee Law Firm Today
We know that not everyone charged with drunk driving is guilty. A legal conviction can permanently tarnish your criminal record, affect your ability to get a job, and damage your reputation.
Thanks to experience serving as district attorneys, our San Antonio DWI attorneys know the tactics prosecutors use to secure convictions and convince defendants to accept unfavorable plea agreements.
We know how to prepare a strategy that emphasizes the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and we have helped thousands of clients navigate their criminal charges to a successful outcome for them.
Contact Austin Hagee Law Firm today if you or a loved one is facing a DUI or DWI charge in San Antonio.
Texas DWI FAQs
What Is a DWI in Texas?
In Texas, driving while intoxicated is a misdemeanor. Before you can be convicted, the State must prove you were: (1) intoxicated, (2) while operating a motor vehicle, (3) in a public place.
How Much Does a DWI Cost in Texas?
The fines for a DWI are set by law:
- First offense: Up to $2,000 plus $3,000 surcharges.
- Second offense: Up to $4,000 plus $4,500 in surcharges if within 36 months of a previous conviction.
- Third offense and beyond: Up to $10,000 plus $4,500 in surcharges if within 36 months of a previous conviction.
If your BAC is 0.15 or higher, you will be assessed an initial fine up to $6,000 plus the surcharges mentioned above.
Can you refuse a Breathalyzer or Blood Test in Texas?
You have the right to refuse a breath or blood test to measure BAC in Texas.
However, your refusal can be used against you to help prove a DWI, and your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for at least 180 days upon your refusal.
What happens to your Driver’s License if you are charged with DWI in Texas?
When you are arrested for suspected DWI in Texas and do not refuse a breathalyzer or blood test, the police officer takes your driver’s license.
They then issue you a temporary driving permit, which expires in 40 days. Unless you take further action, your license will be suspended after that 40-day period. The length of suspension varies from 60 days to 1 year.
You have the right to appeal the suspension within 15 days. If you can convince a judge you did not have a BAC of 0.8 or higher or there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop your vehicle, you can prevent the suspension from going into effect.
How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Texas?
If you are convicted of DWI, the conviction stays on your record forever. You cannot expunge DWIs in Texas.
First offenses, however, can be sealed two years after you complete deferred community supervision if the DWI did not involve a motor vehicle accident with another person and your BAC was less than 0.15.
What Happens If You Are Convicted of a Subsequent DWI?
A second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum jail term of thirty days and a maximum of one year.
Any additional DWIs are third-degree felonies, punishable by imprisonment for two to ten years and hefty fines.