DWI in Texas


DWI in Texas


A DWI in Texas attracts stringent enforcement with some of the most serious consequences for impaired driving in the nation. This is because Texas has the dubious distinction of regularly having the nation's highest or second highest (after California) annual number of vehicle crashes and deaths caused by impaired driving. Unfortunately, one Texan is hurt or killed every 20 minutes because of a DWI incident and law enforcement officers take no chances with statistics like this--very often, they could make arrests on the slightest suspicion just to be safe, arresting a large number of people some of whom turn out to be innocent of driving under the influence.

The legal intoxication limit in Texas is a 0.08 BAC (blood alcohol content or breath alcohol concentration) but if a police officer has reason to believe that you are driving while intoxicated, for example if you are driving on the wrong side of the road, weaving between lanes, driving erratically and so on, you can be pulled over and arrested regardless of your BAC.  There is very little you can do about this but what you do after you are pulled over is critical and what this site is all about.

Possible Penalties of a DWI Conviction in Texas:

  • heavy fines
  • jail time
  • license suspension
  • license fees 
  • community service
  • probation

Your penalties will depend on 3 things:

  • the circumstances of each conviction
  • your actions during and after being pulled over
  • how well you are able to defend yourself

Do's and Don'ts

If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI in the state of Texas, there are some things you should do right away in order to increase the chances of fighting and winning your case or otherwise minimizing the consequences, and there are some things that you should not do. Here are some critical do's and don'ts that according to many legal experts will help your case:


  • Get in touch with an attorney immediately. Insist politely but firmly on your right to an attorney and get one as soon as you can. There are serious consequences to not acting quickly on some important issues after being arrested for a DWI in Texas. The day you are arrested, you will likely be served a Notice of Suspension of your driver's license and unless you file for an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days, you will lose your driving privileges right away. A good criminal defense lawyer can help you keep your license. The penalties involved and the particularly complicated Texas DWI laws make it necessary for you to have an experienced and aggressive attorney who is familiar with the nuances of a DWI defense in a Texas court. You should also know that you have legal rights and it is up to you and your experienced Texas DWI attorney to defend these rights throughout the legal proceedings by taking full advantage of your constitutional rights. Start looking for a lawyer you are comfortable with after following a few guidelines and our tips on how to choose a lawyer is a good place to start.
  • Get an ODL (Occupational Drivers License). If you refuse to take a breath test and also fail to request an ALR (Administrative License Revocation) hearing, your license may be suspended and it will become illegal for you to drive. You will need to get an Occupational Drivers License (ODL) that allows you to legally drive during the day. You get an ODL by filing a petition for it and explaining why you need to drive and at what times.
  • Get a From SR-22. Contact your insurance company immediately and get a Form SR-22 as you won't get an ODL without it. The SR-22 is a certificate of insurance that states you have coverage and is filed by an insurance company directly to the Secretary of State.
  • Write down everything you can remember you did about the day before your arrest, the day of your arrest and the arrest itself. Don't skimp on the details--you need to detail how much, what and when you ate and drank, including medicines, how much you slept, who you met and talked to and so on.
  • Get any witnesses or people who you were with just before the arrest to write down everything they remember about the day before the arrest. Again, ask them seriously not to skimp on the details.
  • Take photos of the arrest location, including all vehicles that may have been involved. Again, don't skimp on the details and photograph everything--the road ahead of and behind the spot you were stopped at, the side of the road, any obstacles that may have diverted you and so on.


  • Do not accept the prosecutor's first offer. In order to be rid of your case quickly without going through the trouble of proving it, you may get a first offer from the prosecutor's office. According to many lawyers, it is almost always a bad idea to accept this offer as you will be giving up your constitutional rights of being innocent until proven guilty and losing any chance at all of getting your case dismissed or reduced to a non-DWI charge.
  • Do not drive if your license has been taken away. This should be a no-brainer--you don't want to break the law at this time!
  • Do not fail to appear in court or a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Besides being a major negative on your driving record, it's a bad idea to have a police car drive up to your home or place of work and take you away in handcuffs. It can and does happen.
  • Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your attorney. This seriously means anyone, including your wife, parents or friends. This is not because you should hide the facts from your loved ones but because you don't want then do say or do something to hurt your case.
  • Do not try to go it alone--a Texas DWI can have a serious impact on the rest of your life and you need to think about it from this angle with a view to minimize the damage going forward. A DWI conviction is a very technical issue and the price of failure to take every advantage is too high. You absolutely need an experienced DWI lawyer or criminal defense lawyer who knows how to negotiate this legal minefield.
  • Do not listen to a lawyer who says you should plead guilty right away because there is no way of winning your case or lessening the charges if you do so. Never assume that your case is hopeless and don't take lightly the fact that you are innocent until proven guilty, no matter what you think about it. Chances are you simply don't know all the laws.

A DWI in Texas can be a traumatic event as it is in any state and it will have a major impact on your life going forward--financially, psychologically, socially and emotionally. The cost of taking your defense lightly is extremely high and the most prudent thing to do is to understand the extremely technical nature of the defense arguments that can lessen the impact.

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