DWI 1st Offense in Texas

Attorney Trey Porter
Trey Porter

DWI 1st Offense in Texas

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A first-time DWI charge in Texas is a Class B Misdemeanor. The maximum fine is $3,000.00, and the maximum jail sentence is 6 months. A conviction for this offense is permanent, and results in a driver license suspension. Learn more.

DWI charges can be enhanced by certain factors. These enhancements result in harsher penalties, including longer terms of incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines, and the loss of basic constitutional rights. 

Consequences for DWI First Offense

Everyone charged with Driving While Intoxicated in Texas is facing incarceration. Police and prosecutors use certain factors to enhance the type of DWI charge a person receives. Blood alcohol concentration, evidence of an accident, injury, the presence of children, and open containers can all be used as the basis for enhancement.

  • DWI with Open Container in TexasDWI with an Open Container is a Class A or B misdemeanor, depending on the BAC, falling into the same punishment ranges as set forth above. However, a person convicted of this offense faces a minimum of 6 days in jail because of the Open Container enhancement. Learn more.  

Class A Misdemeanor Texas

Class A misdemeanors carry the most severe consequences of all misdemeanor categories in Texas. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in county jail, up to 24 months of probation, and are permanent. A conviction for a Texas Class A misdemeanor stays on a person’s record forever. 

  • Class A misdemeanor DWI with BAC .15 or higher in TexasDWI with a BAC of .15 or higher is a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum fine is $6,000.00, and the maximum jail sentence is 12 months. A conviction for this offense is permanent, and results in a driver license suspension.

Driving while intoxicated in Texas

Driving While Intoxicated is a very common offense in Texas, and the penalties are severe. A person can be charged with, and convicted of, Driving While Intoxicated even without consuming alcohol. The law states: 

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.

  • What is Texas definition of intoxication?For purposes of the Texas Driving While Intoxicated Statute, intoxication is defined as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body;  or (B)  having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. 

Can a DWI be Dismissed in Texas?

Yes. DWI cases are dismissed every day in courtrooms across Texas. If you are facing a DWI in San Antonio, even as a first offense, the stakes are high. The State is not going to “take it easy” just because it’s your first offense. That’s why it is critical to fight back, assert your constitutional rights, and do everything possible to avoid a final conviction. 

  • Can a DWI be Dismissed for a bad Traffic Stop?Police officers are often wrong about the law. If a judge determines the underlying reason for a traffic stop was erroneous, then everything following the stop will be excluded. Without additional aggravating factors, a bad traffic stop results in a DWI dismissal.
  • Can a DWI be Dismissed for lack of Probable Cause?All DWI cases will be dismissed if a judge finds the arresting officer lacked probable cause. Officers are trained to look for signs of impairment during traffic stops. Absent signs of impairment or intoxication, an arrest will be invalidated, and the DWI dismissed.

Can a DWI in Texas be Reduced?

Yes. An enhanced DWI offense may be reduced. As outlined above, a first-time DWI charge may be elevated to a Class A Misdemeanor or, in some circumstances, a State Jail Felony. The State has the power to “waive” the enhancement, and proceed on a Class B Misdemeanor DWI. 

  • Can a DWI be Reduced to Obstruction of a Highway or Reckless Driving?Prior to September 1, 2019, a person charged with DWI in Texas was not eligible to apply for Deferred Adjudication. As a work-around, many prosecutorial offices would, in certain circumstances, allow defendants to plead to a different offense like Obstruction of a Highway or Reckless Driving. This would allow a judge to grant the defendant’s application for Deferred Adjudication and avoid a final conviction.

With the passage of Texas House Bill 3582, first-time DWI offenders are now eligible to apply for Deferred Adjudication. This has largely ended the practice of allowing defendants to plead to other charges like Obstruction of a Highway or Reckless Driving. 

Is a DWI a Felony?

First-time DWI charges are misdemeanors in Texas. However, after two DWI convictions, all subsequent DWI charges are categorized as felonies in Texas.

  • DWI with Children in TexasDWI with a Child Passenger is a State Jail Felony. This is the only first-time DWI charge that is categorized as a felony. The maximum fine is $10,000.00, and the maximum period of confinement is 24 months in a State Jail Facility. A conviction for this offense is permanent, and results in a driver license suspension as well as other serious, collateral consequences associated with being a convicted felon. Learn more.

What Happens with First DWI in Texas?

After being arrested for DWI, defendants see a magistrate judge. The magistrate judge sets a bond amount, and decides whether there will be additional conditions of release. For DWI cases, additional bond conditions often consist of drug testing, ignition interlock or SCRAM devices.

  • How Much is Bail for a DWI in Texas?For a first-time DWI offense, the bond amount is typically set between $1,500.00 – $10,000.00. Defendants have the option of paying a Cash Bond or working with a bail bond company or an attorney to post a Surety Bond. Additionally, defendants that qualify may apply for a Personal Recognizance (PR) bond. Learn more.
  • Is Jail Time Mandatory for First-Time DWI in Texas?No. Jail time is not required for DWI first offense, unless it has been enhanced. Learn more about Texas DWI Penalties.
  • Can You Go to Jail for First DWI in Texas?Yes. People are sentenced to jail every day in courtrooms across Texas for DWI. The likelihood of being sentenced to jail for DWI is dependent on the facts of the case, as well as criminal history, driving history, and the defense strategy.
  • How Long is Probation for First-Time DWI in Texas?DWI probation can last up to 24 months in Texas. Learn more.
  • Do I need a Lawyer for DWI in Texas?Yes. Texas has some of the harshest penalties in the nation for DWI and other  intoxication offenses. If you have been charged with DWI it is critical to hire an attorney. Your choice in representation can make the difference between a temporary inconvenience and a lifelong criminal conviction.

How Long Does DWI Stay on Your Record?

Forever. In Texas, arrest and disposition records are never automatically removed. There are two options to “clean up” a criminal record in Texas.

  • Expunctions Delete DWI ChargesDWI and other criminal charges may be eligible to be expunged (deleted) if the charge(s) did not result in a final conviction. Learn more.
  • Petition for Nondisclosure Seals a DWIThe Texas Second Chance Law went into effect in 2017. It allows certain individuals with DWI convictions to seal the record of the arrest and conviction. The law is retroactive, meaning it applies to all DWI cases, even very old ones. Learn more.


Trey Porter is a dynamic advocate, nationally recognized for his work in DWI Defense. He has been voted by his peers as a best lawyer in the field of Criminal and DWI Defense every year since 2015. Recognized by SuperLawyers, Mr. Porter has also been distinguished as a Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Defense Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Porter holds a Superb rating from AVVO, where attorneys are rated based on skillful litigation, client satisfaction, peer endorsements, and positive results. Learn more.

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Attorney Trey Porter

Trey Porter

Trey Porter is one of the highest-rated criminal defense attorneys in Texas. Nationally recognized, Mr. Porter relentlessly fights to protect and assert his clients’ constitutional rights in and out of courtrooms across the state.


If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, it’s time to start building your defense.

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