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San Antonio DWI Lawyers

Fighting Impaired & Intoxicated Driving Charges in Texas

Being pulled over for suspected drunk driving can be the start of an intimidating and extremely unpleasant experience. Depending on the circumstances, it can have life-changing consequences. With officers cracking down on DUI more than ever, it is no surprise that sometimes innocent people get caught in the net of DWI stops and task forces.

If you have been arrested for drunk or drug-impaired driving in San Antonio, it is vital that you seek qualified legal representation as soon as possible. At LaHood Norton Law Group, we have defended innumerable individuals over the years against these charges. Our team of San Antonio DWI lawyers are thoroughly familiar with all the factors to consider in a DUI case and can investigate the state’s evidence to determine the validity of your arrest.

Contact us at (210) 797-7700 to arrange to speak to a San Antonio DWI attorney.

Difference Between DUI and DWI in Texas

What is the difference between DUI and DWI? In Texas, DUI (driving under the influence) is a charge applied to those under 21 who are found with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Texas enforces a zero-tolerance policy for minors.

However, DWI (driving while intoxicated) is charged to adults over 21 and can also be applied to minors because it also includes driving while impaired by drugs. These drugs can be either prescription drugs or street drugs, both of which can alter physical and/or mental faculties. The legal limit for blood alcohol is .08%.

Should a breathalyzer test measure that amount or higher, you can be charged. However, you can also be charged without being subject to a chemical test.

First Offense DWI in Texas

The penalties you may face for a first offense DWI may include the following:

  • Fine: Up to $2,000
  • Jail time: 3 to 180 days
  • License suspension: Up to 1 year
  • Annual fee: Between $1k or $2k for 3 years to remain licensed

Second Offense DWI in Texas

Penalties for for a second offense DWI in Texas include the following:

  • Fine: Up to $4,000
  • Jail time: 1 month to 1 year
  • License suspension: Up to 2 years
  • Annual fee: Between $1k, $1.5k $2k for 3 years to remain licensed

Third Offense DWI in Texas

The penalties you may face for a third offense DWI include:

  • Fine: $10,000
  • Prison time: 2 years to 10 years in prison
  • License suspension: Up to 2 years
  • Annual fee: Between $1k, $1.5k $2k for 3 years to remain licensed

Is a DWI a Felony In Texas?

Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense, but, generally, the first couple of times a person is accused of committing it, they’re not charged with a felony. The first offense is a Class B misdemeanor, and the second offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

A Texas DWI becomes a felony when a person has been charged with the offense two times in the past. In this case, it’s a third-degree felony.

It’s important to note that there are situations in which a first or second DWI is a felony. These include:

  • When a child under 15 years of age was a passenger in the vehicle (state jail felony)
  • When the driver causes serious bodily injury to another (third-degree felony)
  • When the driver causes death to another (second-degree felony)

What Are Enhanced Offenses on a TX DWI Charge?

If certain aggravating factors are present at the time of a DWI offense, the charge is enhanced. Aggravating factors are those that make a crime more serious. Therefore, enhanced offenses come with increased penalties.

In Texas, enhanced DWI sentences include:

  • One prior DWI conviction: This results in a Class A misdemeanor charge with a minimum term of confinement of 30 days. In contrast, a DWI without aggravating factors is a Class B misdemeanor with a minimum of 72 hours in jail.
  • One prior intoxication manslaughter conviction: If a person was previously convicted of driving while intoxicated and causing another’s death and they are accused of DWI again, they could be charged with a third-degree felony. Typically, a second DWI offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Two prior DWI convictions: Being charged with a DWI after having previously been convicted of the offense is a third-degree felony. In contrast, a first or second DWI is a Class B or Class A misdemeanor, respectively.
  • Causing bodily injury to specified persons: If someone is charged with driving while intoxicated and causing injury to another, they could be charged with a second-degree felony if the victim was an on-duty firefighter or emergency medical services personal. If the victim was an on-duty peace officer or judge, the driver could be charged with a first-degree felony. Had the victim not been an official listed above, the offense is a third-degree felony.
  • Causing death to specified persons: If a person was driving under the influence and cause the death of an on-duty firefighter, emergency medical services personnel, peace officer, or judge, they could be charged with a first-degree felony. If this aggravating factor were not present, the offense would be charged as a second-degree felony.
  • Causing TBI: If a driver commits a DWI and causes another person to suffer a traumatic brain injury that puts them in a vegetative state for a continued period, they could be charged with a second-degree felony. Absent this circumstance, the offense is a third-degree felony.

Texas DWI Driver’s License Suspension

A DWI arrest triggers an administrative and a criminal process. Either can result in a driver’s license suspension.

The administrative process begins when a driver refuses or fails a chemical test to measure the amount of alcohol in their system. To fail this analysis means that the driver’s alcohol level was at .08% or higher if they were operating a passenger car or .04% or higher if they were driving a commercial vehicle.

Upon a refusal, the arresting officer will immediately confiscate the individual’s driver’s license and issue a temporary permit. If the driver took the chemical test, their driver’s license wouldn’t be taken until the results are in, indicating that the individual’s alcohol concentration level was at or above the legal limit.

The suspension periods under the Administrative License Revocation Program are as follows:

Refusal

Drivers 21 years of age or older:

  • First offense: 180 days
  • Second offense: 2 years

Drivers under 21 years of age:

  • First offense: 180 days
  • Second offense: 2 years

Commercial vehicle drivers:

  • First offense: 1 year
  • Second offense: 3 years
  • Transporting hazardous materials: Lifetime

Failure

Drivers 21 years of age or older:

  • First offense: 90 days
  • Second offense: 1 year

Drivers under 21 years of age:

  • First offense: 60 days
  • Second offense: 120 days

Commercial vehicle drivers:

  • First offense: 1 year
  • Second offense: 3 years

Transporting hazardous materials: Lifetime

Note that for either a refusal or failure, conduct counts as a second offense when the driver has either previously refused or failed a chemical test or been convicted of a DWI.

Anyone who may be subject to an administrative driver’s license suspension may contest the action by requesting a hearing with the Department of Public Safety. The request must be made within 15 days of receiving a notice of suspension.

The criminal process takes place through the court. The driver’s license suspension a judge imposes is separate from the administrative suspension.

Upon a DWI conviction, a person may lose their driving privileges for the following periods:

  • First offense: Up to 1 year
  • Second offense: Up to 2 years
  • Third offense: Up to 3 years

Ignition Interlock Device in San Antonio, TX

An IID is installed in a car and requires the driver provide a breath sample before operating the vehicle. In Texas, DWI offenders are required to install an Ignition Interlock Device for the following:

  • After a second or any subsequent offenses
  • BAC of 0.15 or higher
  • Under the age of 21 (DUI)

Defense You Need For Handling Your DWI / DWI Charges in Texas

The facts of every DWI/DUI case are different and should be handled by a competent attorney if you wish for a positive outcome. Our San Antonio DWI lawyers regularly get administrative license revocations (ALR) dismissed, which means the driver’s license remains valid. We are also often able to get DWI charges reduced to Obstruction of Highway charges; these charges make non-disclosure easier and are not able to be used as enhancements in subsequent cases. Turn to our San Antonio DWI attorneys at LaHood Norton Law Group, where you will find outstanding legal experience, ability, and service.

Learn your legal options by contacting us at (210) 797-7700 to speak with our San Antonio DWI attorneys.