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Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) - Frequently Asked Questions
What is Driving While Intoxicated?
Operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated.
What is the Legal Definition of Intoxication?
Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, OR a controlled substance, OR a drug, OR a dangerous drug, OR a combination of two or more of those substances, OR any other substance into the body, OR having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more.
What must the State prove for me to be found guilty of DWI by a jury or judge?
The State must prove 1) you were operating a motor vehicle in public 2) while intoxicated. The State may prove intoxication by presenting evidence of a breath or blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or by presenting evidence of mental OR physical impairment. Usually the State will prove impairment using evidence of a subject’s performance on standard field sobriety tests, however the State can use evidence of other factors such as slurred speech, confusion, or the inability to focus or follow simple commands.
What is the Punishment Range for a DWI?
A first offense DWI with a breath alcohol concentration of less than .15 is a Class B Misdemeanor with a punishment range of up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2000 fine. A first offense DWI with a breath alcohol concentration of more than .15 is a Class A Misdemeanor with a punishment range of up to 365 days in jail and up to a $4000 fine. If you are sentenced or agree to a plea bargain offer for time in jail, the minimum sentence is 72 hours. If you are found with an open container the minimum jail sentence is six (6) days. If the sentence is suspended and you are placed on probation, the maximum probation time is two years. Although there are no guarantees, typically a person who is charged with their first DWI and does not have a criminal history will be offered a suspended sentence with probation.
What conditions will be placed on my probation for DWI?
Probation for a DWI typically includes a substance abuse evaluation which may result in the recommendation that you receive treatment for alcohol or drug issues. If treatment is recommended then the treatment will be added as a condition of your probation. Other standard conditions include attendance at a “Victim Impact Panel” session, community service hours, a Crime Stoppers donation and a DWI Education Course, which if completed with 180 days will prevent your driver’s license from being suspended.
What can I expect to spend to have my DWI case resolved?
There are several costs associated with a DWI charge, beginning with the cost of bail to be released from jail. In Collin County the bond for a first DWI on average is $750, but can be lower or higher. If you pay a cash bond the majority of it will be released to you after your case has been resolved. Lawyer fees for a DWI will vary among attorneys and will also be dependent on if you exercise your right to a jury trial. You may be subject to separate legal fees and court filing fees if you require an Occupational License or request an ALR Hearing. The Texas Department of Public Safety will also require a reinstatement fee of about $100-125 to reinstate your license, and if your charge results in a DWI conviction, DPS requires an annual surcharge to maintain the validity of your license. These fees can be reviewed at the Texas Department of Public Safety website.
If I plead guilty to a DWI or am found guilty of a DWI, can I ever get it removed from my criminal record?
No. A plea of guilt for a DWI results in a conviction. Under Texas law an arrest resulting in a conviction cannot be expunged.
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