Penalties for Drunk Driving


drunk driving consequences

In Texas, Penalties for drunk driving are called “range of punishment” is legal terms.  The range of punishment is how much punishment a person can legally expect to face for a given crime.  The below paragraphs discuss various types of driving while intoxicated charges and their respective ranges of punishment.  Generally a person at the misdemeanor level will do 1-2 years of probation in San Antonio, Texas. However,  a felony DWI often results in prison time.

Drunk Driving – First Time Offender Penalties

If you are a first time offender, meaning you have not committed Driving While Intoxicated in the past, then you are facing a class B misdemeanor charge.  You will do 3 days in jail and up to 6 months in jail.  In Bexar County, Texas most judges will waive the 3 day jail requirement, and will allow you to do 1-2 years of probation instead of the jail time. You will likely have to do 24-80 hours of community service, pay a fine, go to several alcohol classes, and report to probation.

Drunk Driving – First Time Offender WITH an Open Container (penalties)

If you are accused of drunk driving, and you are a first time offender, but you have an open container in your car, then you will face a minimum of 6 days in jail and up to 6 months in jail.  The minimum jail sentence is increased by 3 days due to the open container.  In Bexar County, many judges will waive the 6 day jail requirement, and will allow you to do probation instead.  You are likely going to face 1-2 years of probation, a $500 fine, court costs, several DWI classes and community services hours (24-80 hours)

Drunk Driving, With Over .15 Blood Alcohol Content Level (penalties)

If you were drunk driving, and you took a breath test or blood test that resulted in a .15 or higher, then your penalty group increases.  You will be charged with a class A misdemeanor and will face up to one year in jail.  Most likely, you will be offered to do probation instead of jail.  The probation will be up to 2 years long.  You will pay a fine, and do community service hours, along with several alcohol classes.

Drunk Driving Penalties for Driving With Child in Vehicle

If you are found to be drunk driving while a person under the age of 15 years old is in the vehicle with you, then you will be facing a state jail felony.  You will face a minimal jail sentence of 6 months and up to 2 years in the state jail facility.  Likewise with the misdemeanor cases, you can be awarded probation as opposed to jail time, but it is more difficult to win probation at the felony level.

Drunk Driving Penalties for Repeat Offenders in Texas

If you become a repeat offender of DWI, meaning you are caught drunk driving a second time, then you will face a Class A misdemeanor charge and will do from 30 days in jail to 1 year.  It is possible to get probation in certain circumstances for this offense.  The probation term would last about 2 years.

Drunk Driving Penalties for 3rd Time Offenders

If you are caught drunk driving 3 times, then you will face a 3rd degree felony, where the punishment will be from 2-10 years in the prison.

Below, Are the Actual Texas Laws Relating to Penalties for Drunk Driving (Texas Penal Code Sec. 49)

Sec. 49.04.  DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED. (a) A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.

(b)  Except as provided by Subsections (c) and (d) and Section 49.09, an offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.

(c)  If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that at the time of the offense the person operating the motor vehicle had an open container of alcohol in the person’s immediate possession, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days.

(d)  If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that an analysis of a specimen of the person’s blood, breath, or urine showed an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more at the time the analysis was performed, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 14.55, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 960, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2011.

Sec. 49.045.  DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED WITH CHILD PASSENGER. (a) A person commits an offense if:

(1)  the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place; and

(2)  the vehicle being operated by the person is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age.

(b)  An offense under this section is a state jail felony.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 787, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 49.09.  ENHANCED OFFENSES AND PENALTIES. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), an offense under Section 49.04, 49.05, 49.06, or 49.065 is a Class A misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 30 days, if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has previously been convicted one time of an offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, an offense of operating an aircraft while intoxicated, an offense of operating a watercraft while intoxicated, or an offense of operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated.

(b)  An offense under Section 49.04, 49.05, 49.06, or 49.065 is a felony of the third degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has previously been convicted:

(1)  one time of an offense under Section 49.08 or an offense under the laws of another state if the offense contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an offense under Section 49.08; or

(2)  two times of any other offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, operating an aircraft while intoxicated, operating a watercraft while intoxicated, or operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated.

(b-1)  An offense under Section 49.07 is a felony of the second degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty.

(b-2)  An offense under Section 49.08 is a felony of the first degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused the death of a person described by Subsection (b-1).

(b-3)  For the purposes of Subsection (b-1):

(1)  “Emergency medical services personnel” has the meaning assigned by Section 773.003, Health and Safety Code.

(2)  “Firefighter” means:

(A)  an individual employed by this state or by a political or legal subdivision of this state who is subject to certification by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection; or

(B)  a member of an organized volunteer fire-fighting unit that:

(i)  renders fire-fighting services without remuneration; and

(ii)  conducts a minimum of two drills each month, each at least two hours long.

(b-4)  An offense under Section 49.07 is a felony of the second degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused serious bodily injury to another in the nature of a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state.

(c)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated” means:

(A)  an offense under Section 49.04 or 49.045;

(B)  an offense under Section 49.07 or 49.08, if the vehicle operated was a motor vehicle;

(C)  an offense under Article 6701l-1, Revised Statutes, as that law existed before September 1, 1994;

(D)  an offense under Article 6701l-2, Revised Statutes, as that law existed before January 1, 1984;

(E)  an offense under Section 19.05(a)(2), as that law existed before September 1, 1994, if the vehicle operated was a motor vehicle; or

(F)  an offense under the laws of another state that prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

(2)  “Offense of operating an aircraft while intoxicated” means:

(A)  an offense under Section 49.05;

(B)  an offense under Section 49.07 or 49.08, if the vehicle operated was an aircraft;

(C)  an offense under Section 1, Chapter 46, Acts of the 58th Legislature, Regular Session, 1963 (Article 46f-3, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes), as that law existed before September 1, 1994;

(D)  an offense under Section 19.05(a)(2), as that law existed before September 1, 1994, if the vehicle operated was an aircraft; or

(E)  an offense under the laws of another state that prohibit the operation of an aircraft while intoxicated.

(3)  “Offense of operating a watercraft while intoxicated” means:

(A)  an offense under Section 49.06;

(B)  an offense under Section 49.07 or 49.08, if the vehicle operated was a watercraft;

(C)  an offense under Section 31.097, Parks and Wildlife Code, as that law existed before September 1, 1994;

(D)  an offense under Section 19.05(a)(2), as that law existed before September 1, 1994, if the vehicle operated was a watercraft; or

(E)  an offense under the laws of another state that prohibit the operation of a watercraft while intoxicated.

(4)  “Offense of operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated” means:

(A)  an offense under Section 49.065;

(B)  an offense under Section 49.07 or 49.08, if the offense involved the operation or assembly of an amusement ride; or

(C)  an offense under the law of another state that prohibits the operation of an amusement ride while intoxicated or the assembly of a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated.

(d)  For the purposes of this section, a conviction for an offense under Section 49.04, 49.045, 49.05, 49.06, 49.065, 49.07, or 49.08 that occurs on or after September 1, 1994, is a final conviction, whether the sentence for the conviction is imposed or probated.

(e)  Repealed by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 996, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2005.

(f)  Repealed by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 996, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2005.

(g)  A conviction may be used for purposes of enhancement under this section or enhancement under Subchapter D, Chapter 12, but not under both this section and Subchapter D.

(h)  This subsection applies only to a person convicted of a second or subsequent offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated committed within five years of the date on which the most recent preceding offense was committed. The court shall enter an order that requires the defendant to have a device installed, on each motor vehicle owned or operated by the defendant, that uses a deep-lung breath analysis mechanism to make impractical the operation of the motor vehicle if ethyl alcohol is detected in the breath of the operator, and that requires that before the first anniversary of the ending date of the period of license suspension under Section 521.344, Transportation Code, the defendant not operate any motor vehicle that is not equipped with that device. The court shall require the defendant to obtain the device at the defendant’s own cost on or before that ending date, require the defendant to provide evidence to the court on or before that ending date that the device has been installed on each appropriate vehicle, and order the device to remain installed on each vehicle until the first anniversary of that ending date. If the court determines the offender is unable to pay for the device, the court may impose a reasonable payment schedule not to extend beyond the first anniversary of the date of installation. The Department of Public Safety shall approve devices for use under this subsection. Section 521.247, Transportation Code, applies to the approval of a device under this subsection and the consequences of that approval. Failure to comply with an order entered under this subsection is punishable by contempt. For the purpose of enforcing this subsection, the court that enters an order under this subsection retains jurisdiction over the defendant until the date on which the device is no longer required to remain installed. To the extent of a conflict between this subsection and Section 13(i), Article 42.12, Code of Criminal Procedure, this subsection controls.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 14.56, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 318, Sec. 21, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1364, Sec. 12, 13, eff. Jan. 1, 2000; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 648, Sec. 1, 2, eff, Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 969, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 787, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1275, Sec. 2(117), eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 996, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 996, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 662, Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 960, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2011.

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