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Can you go to jail for a first DWI in Texas?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | DWI

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a very serious offense in Texas that can attract severe legal penalties. While the law is particularly harsh on repeat offenders, it does not mean you will get a slap on the wrist if this is your first DWI offense. You could end up in jail if convicted.

Texas law prescribes a minimum jail term of 72 hours with a maximum of 180 days for a first-time offender convicted of a DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of under 0.15%. On top of this, you could also be fined and have your driver’s license suspended, among other legal penalties.

Aggravating factors could enhance your DWI penalties

You could be subject to enhanced legal penalties if there are aggravating factors in your DWI, even if you are a first-time offender. These include:

  • Excessively high BAC levels
  • Having a minor in the car at the time of your DWI arrest
  • Causing injuries or death when drunk driving

These are some of the aggravating factors that could enhance your DWI, potentially leading to more punitive penalties like a considerably longer jail term.

The particulars of your case matter

Judges in Texas have wide discretion when determining the appropriate punishment for a first-time DWI conviction. As such, the specific circumstances of your DWI case will inform whether or not you will go to jail if convicted. 

Factors such as your cooperation with law enforcement, remorse and willingness to seek help for alcohol abuse can determine the outcome of your case. For instance, the judge may sentence you to community supervision instead of jail time after a review of your case.

Seeking legal guidance when facing DWI charges can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal process. Most importantly, it can significantly increase your chances of avoiding jail time.