DWI is one of the most common criminal charges that people living in Houston face. Depending on the circumstances and your criminal record, these charges can take many forms and lead to different levels of punishment.
Texas law gives judges and juries guidelines for sentencing someone convicted of DWI but gives them quite a bit of leeway to impose sentence based on the particular circumstance of the case. Here are those guidelines based on how many prior offenses the defendant had.
- First DWI offense: At least three days in jail, up to 180 days. Driver’s license suspension for up to one year. A maximum $2,000 fine.
- Second DWI offense: One month to one year in jail upon conviction. License suspension of up to two years. Maximum $4,000 fine.
- Third DWI offense: Two to ten years in prison. License suspension for up to two years. A $10,000 fine.
This list covers what most Texans are likely to face, but some people have more than three DWIs on their record. Recently, a Texas man was convicted of DWI after a hit-and-run car accident. It was his ninth DWI conviction since 2003, including three previous convictions within the past decade. This meant prosecutors could charge him with first-degree DWI. As a result, the man was sentenced to life in prison. He won’t be eligible for parole when his time served plus good time credit totals 15 years.
Don’t assume you’re going to jail
While this level of charge is rare, a prior DWI or two could lead to months or years behind bars. But an arrest is not the same thing as a conviction. You may have several options for defending yourself, possibly getting the charge reduced or dropped.