1st Texas DWI: Class B Misdemeanor
Range of Punishment
Absent dangerous or severe facts, most people convicted of their first DWI will have their jail sentence probated, and be placed on probation. Probation can last up to 24 months, and most North Texas counties only offer probation for 24 months. It is important to understand that any violation of any condition of probation can result in your probation being revoked and the jail sentence imposed.
Jail: Confinement in the county jail for not less than 72 hours nor more then 180 days.
Fine: A fine not to exceed $2,000.
If you had an open container of alcohol in your possession when you were arrested, the minimum term of confinement is six (6) days in the county jail.
Common Probation Conditions
Monthly Reporting: You will be ordered to report to your probation officer each month. Absent an emergency, there is no excuse for not reporting. “I couldn’t make it this month, I had to go to work” is not a valid excuse. “I did not have the probation fee” is not a valid excuse. Even if you cannot pay the monthly probation fee, you have to report. Failure to report can result in your probation being revoked and you being put in jail.
Community Service: Texas law mandates that you perform a minimum of 24 hours, not more than 100 hours of community service if granted probation. 80 hours of community service is common.
Jail Time: For a first DWI, this is rare. If your case has dangerous facts, you could be sentenced to 30 days in the county jail as a condition of probation. If your probation subsequently gets revoked, you will not receive credit for these days in jail.
Fine: You will have to pay a fine through probation. It is typical for a first offense to have to pay approximately $600-$800 fine for your first offense.
Court Costs: You will have to pay court costs which will cost you approximately $300.
Ignition Interlock Device: To start your car, you must blow into the device, and if it detects a certain amount of alcohol, it will not allow you to start it. Some devices require you to blow into them every 20 minutes while driving. This is optional for first-time DWIs, but is required for all subsequent DWIs as a condition of probation and a requirement of your bond.
Alcohol/Drug Evaluation: You will need to be evaluated to determine whether or not you have an alcohol or drug problem. This is handled by a government agency rather than your own provider. If they determine that you have a problem, you will be required to pay for and adhere to any recommended treatment. If you receive a poor evaluation, the ignition interlock will almost certainly be added as a condition of your probation. Regardless of the outcome of your evaluation, you could be ordered to attend AA meetings as a condition of your probation.
Consume No Alcohol: Some courts require that you not consume any alcohol at all. This means you can’t take any alcohol-containing medications. For example, suppose you have a cold and take a cold medicine that contains alcohol. You then proceed to your car, which, sadly, has the ignition interlock device. When you blow into the device, it prevents your vehicle from starting. You miss your probation meeting because your car won’t start. Your probation officer receives the ignition interlock device report, which reveals that you had alcohol in your system just prior to your missed probation meeting. Alternatively, you attend your meeting and are forced to provide a urine sample that tests positive for alcohol. In these very likely (and common) scenarios, your probation will be revoked and you will be imprisoned!
DWI Education Class: You must pay for and successfully complete an approved course within 180 days of being placed on probation. If you do not comply within 180 days, your driver’s license will be suspended for a year. If you were under the age of 18 at the time of the DWI, your license will be automatically suspended for one year as a result of the conviction, and you will still be required to complete this course.
Employment: During your probation, you will be required to work diligently at a suitable job. If you do not have a job, you will be forced to look for one, and your efforts will be monitored by the probation department. Furthermore, you must allow your probation officer to visit you at work if they so desire.
Don’t Commit Any Other Crimes: Obviously, don’t commit any other crimes. Any violation of the law may result in the revocation of your probation. I’ve never heard of someone having their probation revoked for a simple speeding ticket (which does not result in a reckless driving charge) or for failing to use a turn signal (a Class “C” traffic violation). However, a Class “C” Public Intoxication will almost certainly result in the revocation of your probation.
During probation, you may be ordered to stay within the state of Texas or even within a specific county, and if you want to go on a trip, you must first obtain permission from your probation officer. Furthermore, if you move, you must notify your probation officer within 5 days. You must also allow your probation officer to visit you at home if they so desire.
Probation Fees: Each time you report to probation, you must pay a fee for your visit. The fee per visit ranges between $40 and $60.
Drug Testing: At the discretion of your probation officer, you may be compelled to provide a sample of your breath, blood, or, more commonly, urine to determine the presence of any alcohol or drugs, and you will be required to pay for the test.
Nightlife & Business Luncheons/Dinners: The Judge has the authority to prohibit you from entering any bar, nightclub, honky tonk, saloon, or other establishment that serves alcohol! It’s worth noting that the Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars, and Rangers all serve alcohol at their games.
Although it is unusual, Judges can order you to submit to electronic monitoring. You will be forced to wear a device around your ankle (about the size of a pager). You will be permitted to leave your home for specified periods of time. If you are not at home when you are supposed to be, the monitor will know, and your probation may be revoked.
Crime Stoppers: Most judges will order you to pay a one-time fee of $20-50 to Crime Stoppers.
More Conditions: The Judge may impose any additional conditions deemed appropriate for your probation. Probationers have been ordered by judges to remove all alcohol from their homes. Vanilla extract, Nyquil, and mouthwash were all included!
If probation is granted, you will be given an Order setting all you terms and conditions of probation that apply to your specific case. You must comply with each and every term and condition, otherwise, you could end up in jail.
Our goal in defending you is to try and ensure that you do not have to face any of these potential penalties or the stigma of being a convicted criminal for life.
Joe Cannon, DUI/DWI criminal defense attorney, has a proven record of winning the most difficult cases. In addition to their superior litigation skills, he has saved Texas minors cited under Zero Tolerance laws and guide people through the penalties of conviction.