One of the most serious traffic infractions involves impairment at the wheel. When the state has evidence of a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense, prosecutors may file a charge against a motorist that can lead to significant penalties. Getting arrested can be a humbling and frightening experience, and many people would like to put that moment behind them as quickly as possible after an arrest. However, many people go about resolving the charges against them the wrong way. Instead of fighting to defend themselves, they plead guilty right away.
Oftentimes, the reasons for doing so include a desire to keep their case out of criminal court and therefore out of the news. However, that guilty plea puts someone at the mercy of the courts. And, unfortunately, many drivers underestimate the potential criminal penalties that a judge could hand down for a DWI offense. What type of sentence is possible following a DWI conviction in Texas?
Judges can impose multiple penalties
The exact consequences for a DWI charge reflect both the details of the case and the judge’s interpretation of state law. Texas statutes include a spectrum of possible penalties for different classes of DWI offenses. There are three penalties the state will impose for DWI convictions. These include fines, a suspension of one’s driver’s license and potentially incarceration. Factors including the presence of passengers in the vehicle, a blood alcohol level well over the legal limit and even causing injury to others will all influence the penalties possible.
Provided that there are no injuries or other factors that increase the severity of the charges, the maximum possible penalties for a first DWI conviction include up to $2,000 in fines, 180 days in state custody and a year without a driver’s license. Those penalties will become more serious with each following DWI conviction, and eventually repeats offenses could even lead to a felony DWI charge without any aggravating factors, like the presence of a child in the vehicle.
Those who understand the possible penalties are in a position to make a more informed choice about how they respond to their DWI charges. Avoiding a conviction for a pending DWI offense is the only way to potentially eliminate the possibility of jail time, a driver’s license suspension and the chilling effect that a criminal conviction can have on someone’s professional ambitions.