Question: What are the punishment levels for a DWI in Texas?
Benson Varghese: Driving while intoxicated starts off as a class B offense in Texas. However, it’s not a pure class B offense, which should be a 0 to 180 days punishment range. There is a minimum of three days in jail, and a maximum of 180 days in jail. And that’s just something the legislature put in because they take DWIs more seriously than any other offenses.
If you have had one prior conviction for driving while intoxicated, your punishment range changes and it becomes a modified class A misdemeanor. The minimum punishment range on that is 30 days up to a year in jail. And the fine, which on the class B would’ve been 2,000, jumps up to 4,000 on the second DWI. Additionally, on a first DWI, if your blood alcohol concentration is a .15 or greater at the time of testing, the punishment range becomes that of a pure class A misdemeanor, so zero to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
Fines and punishment levels increase if there was a child passenger in the vehicle. That becomes a felony. If you’ve had two or more priors, that also becomes a felony. For a state jail felony, which is what a DWI with a child passenger would be, the punishment range is 6 months up to 2 years in state jail. That could be a first-time offense, but if you have someone under the age of 14 in your vehicle, it is a state jail felony, even on that first-time offense.