Houston DWI Attorney Explains First DWI
Many of our clients have no prior criminal record and never imagined being charged with a criminal offense including drunk driving or driving while intoxicated (DWI). These clients want to know the consequences of a first DWI conviction under Texas law. Although the standard penalties vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, avoiding the DWI conviction is important to avoid these standard penalties as well as the indirect consequences of a DWI conviction.
Although we have provided general information about the potential punishments that can result from a first DWI conviction under Texas law, contacting an attorney is important because punishments and penalties depend heavily on the particular facts of your case and the particular judge and prosecutor which will be involved with the resolution of your DWI charges. Contact Matt Horak to discuss your arrest for a first DWI in Houston, Harris County, and the surrounding areas.
First DWI Penalties under Texas Law
Under Texas law, a first offense for DWI is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. In most cases, the courts are required to impose certain minimum mandatory punishments, including:
- A fine not to exceed $2,000 and up to two (2) years of community supervision or probation;
- The jail portion of the sentence requires that the court imposes at least 72 hours in the county jail, although the court can impose up to six (6) months in the county jail (as part of a negotiated plea, the court typically impose community supervision or probation for any period of confinement so the individual does not serve any additional jail time);
- As part of the community control (probation), the court must impose at least 24 hours of community service, although the court can impose up to 100 hours of community service.
For most individuals convicted of DWI throughout Texas, (including in the courts for Houston in Harris County), the court will impose the following special conditions of community supervision or probation;
- DWI Education Class – Individuals conviction of a first DWI in Texas are usually required to complete an approved DWI Education class within the first 6 months after the date of the conviction;
- Complete one DWI Victim Impact Panel – the Victim Impact Panels in Texas are presentations by victims of drunk and drugged drivers to educate the participants on the consequences of drunk driving on the families of intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter victims);
- Drug or Alcohol Evaluation and all recommended follow-up treatment – Individuals convicted of a first DWI in Texas are usually required to obtain an evaluation to determine whether alcohol or substance abuse treatment is needed as complete any recommended treatment as required through the Department of Community Supervision;
- Maintain suitable employment;
- Commit no other crimes during the entire period of probation or community supervision;
- Obtain permission before moving to a different residence or obtaining different employment from the probation officer;
- Complete the community service hours imposed as a part of the sentence (usually between 24 and 100 hours);
- Report each month to see the probation officer and provide proof of each special condition that has been completed; and
- Pay all fines, court costs and supervision fees as required by the probation officer.
Although not required under Texas law, the court may impose additional conditions of the first DWI conviction depending on the particular facts of the case. Aggravated factors that can cause the court in Texas to be harsher during a DWI sentencing can include the following:
- Possession of an open container while DWI is a class B misdemeanor which requires an additional minimum mandatory requirement of 6 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000;
- Possession of controlled substance in the vehicle;
- Any vehicle crash, including a crash involving one vehicle or one that causes only minor property damage;
- Any minor child being in the vehicle at the time of the stop (the driver can be charged with a felony if the DWI occurs while a child under the age of 15 is in the vehicle with a minimum mandatory requirement upon conviction of not less than 6 months or more than 2 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000);
- A bad driving record with several speeding tickets for driving more than 25 miles over the speed limit;
- Prior careless or aggressive driving allegations;
- Any allegation of resisting the officer or using abusive language.
Those additional requirements that can be imposed by the court including:
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) – if the court imposes a condition that you obtain an ignition interlock device, then you must blow into the machine before starting your vehicle and again periodically while you are driving;
- Additional Drug or Alcohol Treatment – depending on the facts of the case the court might impose additional alcohol or drug treatment including requiring attendance at AA or NA meetings;
- No Alcohol Consumption – the court may impose a condition that you not consume any alcohol while on community supervision or probation and that the probationer not enter any establishment that derives most of its revenue from alcohol; or
- Restitution – if the first DWI arrest involving a crash or car accident, the court may require the person arrested to provide proof that his insurance company settled any claim by the victim for property damage or require the probation to pay restitution.
Even for a first (1st) DWI arrest, it’s vitally important to avoid a conviction by seeking the services of an attorney familiar with handling DWI cases in Texas.
Horak Law | Texas Attorney Defending First Offenders against DWI Charges
If you have been arrested for a first DWI offense, then contact an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney to discuss the particular facts and circumstances of your case. Matt Horak is available to talk with you about your drunk driving case in Houston or surrounding counties of Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston, Liberty, or Waller.