cop pulling over a car

One of the most common causes of accidents in the state of Texas is driving while under the influence. In 2021, Texas alone saw 25,261 drunk driving accidents. Out of those accidents, 1,029 individuals were killed and 2,522 people were seriously injured. 

Due to the serious consequences that are often a result of driving while intoxicated, the state of Texas takes DWI and DUI laws very seriously. Being convicted of this crime can completely alter an individual’s life as they face hefty consequences such as probation, jail or prison time, fines, hefty court costs, and driver’s license suspensions.

Those who find themselves being pulled over and taken into custody over a DWI charge may feel like there is no hope. However, the team at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC knows that an arrest is not the same as an automatic conviction. Police error, improper testing, or denial of rights can lead to an alleged offender being released from custody and the charge being significantly reduced or dismissed entirely.

Here is more information on DWIs and how our legal team can help ensure the best outcome for your case.

Types of DWI Cases Handled by Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC

Whether you were arrested for the first time or have been previously convicted of drunk driving on multiple occasions, our team can help. We handle a range of different types of DWI cases in Fort Worth, Texas, and the surrounding areas. These include:

First DWI Offense

The state of Texas classifies first-time DWI charges as Class B misdemeanors. If you are convicted of your First DWI, you could face a fine of up to $2,000 along with 180 days of county jail time. If there are aggravating factors in your case, the consequences can be a lot more severe.

Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC Insight: What Is an Aggravating Factor?

An aggravating factor is a legal term that refers to circumstances surrounding a crime sufficient enough to heighten the severity of the infraction and increase the punishment towards the convicted person. For example, drinking and driving while a minor is in the car would be considered an aggravating factor.

Second DWI Offense

A second defense of a DWI charge can result in the following penalties:

  • Up to a $4,000 fine
  • One month to a year in jail upon being convicted
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to two years

Third DWI Offense

A third DWI offense can result in the following penalties:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • 2 to 10 years in prison upon conviction
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to two years

Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC Insight: Additional Charges

The state of Texas often includes an additional state fine for DWI offenses. These fines can either be $3,000, $4,500, or $6,000 depending on the facts and severity of the case. This will be assessed and added in during the sentencing.

Felony DWI Offense

man driving his car

While it isn’t often considered one, a DWI conviction can be considered a felony if the following circumstances are true:

Circumstance One: Intoxication Assault

This is when an accident caused by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol resulted in serious injury. If the other driver is seriously injured or maimed due to the consequences of another person’s drunk driving, the charge could be heightened to a third-degree felony known as intoxication assault.

Circumstance 2: Intoxication Manslaughter

If an individual driving under the influence causes an accident with another vehicle that results in the death of the other driver or a passenger, it is considered a second-degree felony. 

Circumstance 3: Driving With a Child/Minor in the car

If someone under the influence drives with a child passenger in the car, they could face the charge of DWI with a minor. This is a separate charge from the DWI and will be considered a state jail felony.

Circumstance 4: DWI Felony-Repetition

If an individual has two prior DWI convictions regardless of the age of those prior convictions and third arrest for DWI will be treated as a third degree felony.

DWI With a Child Passenger 

The Texas Penal Code Chapter 12 Section 49.045 states that “when a person operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated on a public road and a child under 15 is in the same vehicle while the intoxicated person operates it, the latter individual can be arrested for a felony DWI with Child Passenger charge.” 

What Are the Penalties for a DWI With Child Passenger Conviction?

Unlike the other DWI charges. The DWI with a Child Passenger charge is a completely separate offense and carries its consequences. It is considered a state jail felony and has the following penalties:

  • Driver’s license suspension for 180 days
  • Minimum jail sentence for up to 180 days and up to two years
  • A fine of $10,000
  • Probation
  • Community service hours for a felony offense
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Completion of an alcohol or drug education course
  • Attendance at a DWI school or repeat offender DWI school
  • Additional fees required by the court

Additional penalties can be added depending on the facts surrounding the case. However, these circumstances may cause the courts to judge the defendant more harshly:

  • The defendant had prior felony convictions.
  • The defendant had prior DWI convictions.
  • The impaired driver caused an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child passenger, other passengers of the same or another vehicle, or a pedestrian.
  • The impaired driver caused an accident and the child passenger, passenger of another vehicle, or a pedestrian was killed.

DWI Over 0.15 BAC

Also known as an Enhanced DWI offense, if it is shown at your trial that your blood alcohol content was greater than 0.15 or higher at the time of testing, the charge will be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor. This is true even if this was the defendant’s first offense. 

A Class A Misdemeanor carries with it a fine of up to $4,000 and the possibility of up to a year in county jail. Additionally, the defendant may be charged with having to submit to installing an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. This device will force the defendant to take and pass a breathalyzer test by blowing into this device before your car engine will turn on.

Juvenile/Underage DWI

sunset photo with a highway

When a teen driver is pulled over and suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will be subjected to a blood alcohol breath test. If any alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath, they will be taken into custody and their vehicle towed. The driver will be held responsible for paying all towing expenses. 

If the teenager is involved in an accident due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, getting medical attention is the top priority. They will be taken to the hospital to be checked over by a medical provider. The medical provider is legally obligated to disclose the teenager’s BAC to law enforcement, although the medical records will only be disclosed if it is court-ordered. 

Penalties for a DWI of a Minor Offense

  • First offense:
    • Class C misdemeanor
    • Fines up to $500.00
    • Mandatory attendance to an alcohol awareness class
    • 20-40 hours of community service
    • License suspension of 60 days to two years
  • Second offense:
    • Class C misdemeanor
    • Fines up to $500.00
    • Mandatory attendance to an alcohol awareness class
    • 40-60 hours of community service
    • License suspension of up to 120 days to two years
  • Third offense:
    • Fines up to $500.00
    • 40-60 hours of community service
    • License suspension of 180 days to two years
  • Minors over the age of 17 will also face:
    • Increased fines of up to $2,000
    • Jail time up to 180 days

Penalties for Underage Driving While Intoxicated in Minors Age to 17-21

Drivers who are the ages 17 to 21 and have been caught driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% will face heavier charges. This also includes individuals who had other minors in the car or who got into an accident that injured or killed another person. These penalties are as follows:

  • First offense:
    • Class B misdemeanor
    • Fines up to $2,000
    • Jail sentence:
      • Minimum 72 hours
      • Maximum 180 days
    • License suspension
      • Minimum of 90 days
      • Maximum of one year
  • Second offense:
    • Class A misdemeanor
    • Fines up to $4,000
    • Jail sentence:
      • Minimum 30 days
      • Maximum of one year
    • License suspension
      • Minimum of 180 days
      • Maximum of two years
  • Third or subsequent offense:
    • Third-degree felony
    • Fines up to $10,000
    • Jail sentence
      • Minimum two years
      • Maximum 10 years
    • License suspension
      • Minimum 180 days
      • Maximum two years

Commercial DWI

Commercial DWIs are under regulation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These drivers are held to a higher standard compared to regular drivers. For a driver of a commercial vehicle to be charged with a DWI, their blood alcohol content only needs to be 0.04%. This is half of the standard for regular drivers who need a 0.08% or higher to be considered driving while intoxicated

If a commercial driver is found to have a BAC of 0.04% or higher, that driver will immediately be removed from performing safety-sensitive functions, including driving a commercial vehicle. If they are convicted of a DWI, they may lose their driving privileges for a year and have their commercial driver’s license revoked.

Penalties for a Commercial DWI Case

Criminal penalties for a commercial DWI are as follows:

  • First-time offenses are considered a Class B Misdemeanor:
    • Three to 180 days of jail time
    • Fines up to $2,000
    • Revoked commercial driver’s license

Other Driving-Related Cases That Gebhardt and Eppes Handles:

Our team also handles the following cases/services:

  • Impaired driving
  • DWI and marijuana
  • DWI and prescription drugs
  • DWI and OTC drugs
  • Driving while license is suspended
  • DWI test refusal
  • License suspension hearings
  • DWI expungement

What Happens After a DWI Arrest in Texas?

Following an arrest for DWI in Texas, police officers on the scene will take you to the local station for processing. Here, you will go into a holding facility until your hearing. They could potentially transfer you to the county jail if it is going to take longer than a few hours for your initial court appearance.

How Can a Texas DWI Attorney Help Me?

Whatever DWI-related crime you may have been arrested for, you should never assume that going to court and pleading guilty is your only option. The truth is that you stand to benefit from a thorough review of your case, which could reveal any one of several possible defenses or flaws in the prosecutor’s case.

Common Defenses Against DWI Charges in Texas

inside the office

It is important to understand that every case is different and may require a different approach than the ones suggested. However, the following defense strategies are often compelling enough to get the court to either lower or entirely dismiss charges.

  • Challenging a field sobriety test
  • Challenging the blood test
  • Challenging the breathalyzer test
  • Challenging drug recognition expert testimony
  • Seeking the suppression of evidence, including witness testimony
  • Challenging the testimony of the police officers
  • Proving that the accident stemming from the DWI was not your fault
  • Using police reports from the accident to show discrepancies in the officer’s testimony
  • Claiming that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights
  • Claiming that the law enforcement engaged in unconstitutional search and seizure of your property or person

If you were arrested for drunk driving in Fort Worth, Texas, or the surrounding areas, call on the team at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC immediately. Our team will aggressively defend you and ensure that your voice is heard in a court of law. We work hard to ensure that you get the best outcome from your case. Contact us today for more information on our services or to schedule a free consultation.

DWI FAQ Questions

Do I Need a Lawyer for My DWI Case in Texas?

Yes! Do not assume that you can face the courts alone or that you are automatically guilty. There are a lot of things that can go wrong or ways that your rights could have been infringed upon. Allow our team to stand up and fight for you.

Is Jail Time Mandatory for a First Offense DWI?

No. With a strong DWI attorney by your side, you may be able to get the required penalty of jail time reduced or have your case completely dismissed.