The state often sponsors billboards and other ads which claim that a first-time DWI costs $17,000. That claim is not exactly true, but it is not exactly false either. $17k is a fairly good average figure for both the direct and indirect consequences of DWIs, but it is only a very rough average.
For any of these penalties to kick in, prosecutors must establish intoxication beyond a reasonable doubt. According to the Texas Penal Code, intoxication means the complete loss of a person's normal physical or mental faculties, or a BAC above .08. A different BAC limit applies in some cases.
Texas law sets out many DWI penalties. If the defendant has a BAC under .15, or refuses to provide a chemical sample, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor (maximum six months in jail and $2,000 fine). If the defendant has a .15 or above BAC, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor (one year in jail and $4,000 fine).
There are some additional sentencing nuances. If no enhancements apply, the minimum jail term is three days. Most people have three days' credit before they go to court. If the defendant had an open container, the minimum jail time is six days. Most people do not have that much credit for time served, unless they spent at least two or three days in jail after their arrests (depending on the amount of good time credit given by the Parker County Sheriff).
Nearly everyone receives probation. The conditions vary among different jurisdictions, but they usually include:
· Work full time, go to school full time, or some combination of both,
· Support all dependents,
· Commit no further offenses,
· Remain in the area, and
· Perform community service.
In addition to probating the jail sentence, the state often probates some or all of the fine.
Defendants who had a BAC between .08 and .14 and have ignition interlock devices installed on their cars for at least six months may be eligible for record nondisclosure. That's basically the same thing as record sealing or shielding.
Higher auto insurance premiums are the biggest indirect consequence of a DWI. Most of the aforementioned $17k figure comes from these higher premiums. Usually, defendants must obtain high-risk SR-22 insurance for at least three years.
An attorney cannot do much about insurance premiums. But a lawyer may be able to negotiate a lower SR-22 period. If the defendant can forgo SR-22 insurance after two years instead of three, that could mean thousands of dollars. Moreover, depending on the District Attorney's rules, a reckless driving plea may be an option. This offense is also a major misdemeanor, but it does not have the same collateral consequences as DWI.
An aggressive attorney can help you avoid some or all of the consequences of a DWI. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Convenient payment plans are available.