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Texas DWI Defense

Texas DWI Defense

If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated in the Texas, you may be feeling uncertain about your future. Retaining the legal advice from Craig Watkins could be critical to any possible reduction or elimination of the charges brought against you. Call 844-427-2449 to set up your consultation today.

Under Texas state law, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious criminal offense. The consequences of a DWI conviction can be life-altering, often resulting in license suspension, substantial fines, probation, or even prison time. At Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, our driving while intoxicated lawyers in Dallas understand how allegations against you are likely to be prosecuted and, therefore, how to best defend against them.

Craig Watkins is the most respected and widely-recognized  DWI defense lawyer in the state, and he knows what it takes to mount a strong and effective defense against the charges you are facing.

Table of Contents

Types of DWI and Alcohol Charges We Can Handle

Texas statute § 49.04 defines “driving while intoxicated” as operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. The term “intoxicated” means:

  • Having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher; or
  • The presence of alcohol, a drug, a dangerous drug, a controlled substance, any other substance, or a combination of at least two substances preventing a person from having the normal use of physical or mental faculties.

Law enforcement might request a breath test or blood draw to determine if you have alcohol in your system. You have the right to refuse if you haven't been arrested yet. However, it's implied that you have given consent once you're arrested for operating your motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated under the Texas implied consent law. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test after your arrest, you could lose your license for up to 180 days. The Texas Department of Transportation could suspend your license for up to two years if you have at least one alcohol-related enforcement contact within the last ten years.

There is a wide range of alcohol-related charges that individuals can face, all of which carry potentially devastating consequences if they are convicted. Make sure you have the representation necessary to protect yourself and your future when facing the following alcohol offenses:

  • Driving while Intoxicated (DWI) – Being intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.
  • Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger – Operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated and with a passenger under 15 years old.
  • Driving under the Influence (DUI) – DUI is a term some people will use interchangeably with DWI when referring to a person driving with alcohol or drugs in their system. However, the main difference between the two is DUI refers to alcohol-related offenses committed by minors.
  • Boating while Intoxicated (BWI) – A person is intoxicated while operating a watercraft. A watercraft is an aquaplane, vessel, one or more water skis, or another device to carry or transport people on the water.
  • Intoxication Assault – Causing serious bodily injury to another person while intoxicated and operating a watercraft, aircraft, or amusement ride, or serious bodily injury results from assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter – Operating a motor vehicle, amusement ride, or watercraft while intoxicated or assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated, causing another person's death.

Whether it is for a first or repeat offense, if you have been arrested and charged with an alcohol-related crime, you need an experienced Dallas DWI lawyer in your corner fighting for you.

Driving While Intoxicated Penalties in Texas

Consequences. If you are found guilty of driving while intoxicated, a judge may sentence you to one or more of the following, depending on various aspects of your case:

Alcohol-related offenses fall under two main levels of charges: misdemeanor or felony. Varying classifications exist, depending on the circumstances of the crime, each with its own minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines.

  • Fines of up to $2,000 for first-time offenders and up to $10,000 for repeat offenders
  • Jail time of up to 180 days for first-time convictions and up to 10 years for repeat convictions
  • License suspension of up to one year for first-time DWI offenders and up to two years for repeat offenders
  • Annual fees to retain your driver's license ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 every year for three years





Class B misdemeanor

3 to 180 days in jail

DWI with Child Passenger

State Jail Felony

180 days to 2 years in state jail

Boating while intoxicated

Class B misdemeanor

3 to 180 days in jail

Intoxication Assault

Third-degree felony

2 to 10 years in state prison

Intoxication Manslaughter

Second-degree felony

2 to 20 years in state prison

Texas follows strict zero-tolerance laws when sentencing minors convicted of alcohol-related crimes. The penalties for DWI by a minor 17 to 21 years old are:

First offense – Class B misdemeanor

  • 72 hours to 180 days in jail
  • Up to a $2,000 fine

Second offense – Class A misdemeanor

  • 30 days to one year in jail
  • Up to a $4,000 fine

Third offense – Third-degree felony

  • Two to ten years in prison
  • Up to a $10,000 fine

DUI by a minor under 17 years old come with the following penalties:

First offense – Class C misdemeanor

  • 20 to 40 hours of community service
  • Maximum of $500 fine
  • Completion of an Alcohol Awareness Course

Second offense – Class C misdemeanor

  • 40 to 60 hours of community service
  • Maximum of $500 fine
  • Completion of an Alcohol Awareness Course

You could face an enhanced penalty under Texas statute § 49.09 if you have a prior conviction of DWI or another alcohol-related crime or extenuating circumstances exist.

BWI or DWI – Class A misdemeanor if you have one previous conviction of driving while intoxicated, boating while intoxicated, assembling or operating an amusement ride while intoxicated, or operating an aircraft while intoxicated. Mandatory sentencing is 30 days to one year in jail.

DWI, DWI with a child passenger, and BWI – Third-degree felony if:

  • You have one prior intoxication manslaughter conviction; or
  • Two previous convictions for offenses related to operating an aircraft while intoxicated, boating while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated, or operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated.

Intoxication assault – Enhanced penalties of:

  • Second-degree felony if you caused an emergency medical services worker or firefighter serious bodily injury while they were performing their official duties;
  • Second-degree felony if you caused traumatic brain injury to someone resulting in a persistent vegetative state;
  • First-degree felony if you caused serious bodily injury to a judge or peace officer while they performed their official duties. Mandatory sentence of 5 to 99 years or life in prison.

Intoxication manslaughter – First-degree felony if you caused the death of a:

  • Firefighter;
  • Emergency medical services worker;
  • Member of a volunteer firefighting unit that conducts at least two-hour long drills at least twice a month or performs services without pay; or
  • An employee of the state or a political or legal subdivision certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.

Moreover, driving while intoxicated conviction may have serious personal and professional consequences, some of which may be exceedingly difficult to overcome. Contacting a driving while intoxicated attorney as early on as possible is essential to the success of your defense.Are you in need of a defense attorney for

Consequences of a DWI Conviction

Other issues that may result after being convicted of a DWI charge range from civil proceedings in family-related matters (if you are a parent) to detrimental effects on your personal and professional reputation.

If you have children, Child Protective Services (CPS) may investigate you and start an inquiry regarding your drinking habits, especially if you are already in the middle of a divorce or a suit affecting the parent-child relationship. Calling a DWI attorney to assist you with your defense is key to preventing a conviction, thus decreasing the possibility of these additional civil-case issues.

Many employers take DWI charges seriously and will no longer employ someone convicted of the offense. Not only could you lose your job, but you could also have trouble finding another job. Companies often complete thorough background checks, including looking for criminal history. If they see your arrest and subsequent imprisonment, they might decide not to hire you.

Furthermore, if you have personal and professional goals, a DWI conviction can lead to the delay or derailing of these ambitions. For instance, if you seek a professional license in a particular field (such as law or medicine), you may find it difficult to obtain the license and end up facing a more unstable and uncertain future than the one you planned for yourself.

You could also struggle to find a place to live. Property management companies and landlords typically run background checks too. Discovering you have a criminal record could result in a denial of your application. They might not want a convicted felon living in their building, potentially causing problems for other tenants.


Craig Watkins is the former Elected District Attorney in Dallas County, Texas. He became the first elected African American District Attorney in the State of Texas. Craig served for two terms – 2007-2014. While District Attorney Craig set out to reform the criminal justice system with his Smart On Crime approach to criminal justice. This approach included the examination of wrongful convictions, rehabilitation, education, and employment. Craig created the first-ever Conviction Integrity Unit in a District Attorney’s Office in the Country.

2531 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
2531 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75215
214-421-3105 (fax)


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