A First DWI: A Guide to Navigating the DWI Headwaters

A First DWI Is Bad News But Not a Death Sentence

A first DWI charge is a rude shock. If you’re like most first DWI defendants, you’re a good citizen and responsible adult who’s rarely seen the inside of a police station. Unfortunately, whether your DWI charge was fair or not, you have suddenly been thrust into a new and frightening world of DWI lawyers, foreign legal terminology, social shame, and dire professional and personal consequences.


Take a deep breath. You have help, and there are concrete steps you can take to make sure that the damage to your life isn’t crippling. If you have a drinking problem, it’s time for immediate action to prevent this deadly addition from doing more damage to you and others. If the situation is causing you anxiety, loss of sleep, or suicidal thoughts, make sure to take these signs seriously and get the therapy and support you need.

We recommend you find the best Austin DWI lawyer you can. Texas DWI law is convoluted and the circumstances of your case can dramatically affect the outcome. There’s also a new “second chance law” that can help first DWI defendants keep the conviction off their records. Contact us now for a no-strings legal consultation.


What Is First Offense for DWI?

A first DWI conviction is serious, and the penalties only go up with multiple convictions. A first DWI in Texas carries with it a fine of up to $2000 and a possible license suspension of up to two years, with a fine of up to $2000 per year to maintain your driving license for three years. A first DWI also means a three- to 365-day jail sentence and the possibility of DWI education, community service, and probation.

Is a First DWI a Felony?

No. A first DWI is a class B misdemeanor in Texas. If your BAC was .15% or higher, it’s a class A misdemeanor. But even a misdemeanor conviction can derail your social, professional, and personal life.

What Happens When You Get a DWI for the First Time?

Unlike most crimes, a DWI can have immediate consequences even if you aren’t convicted. The consequences are severe even for a first-time DWI, and get more severe for repeat offenders. Your license can be confiscated on the spot, and as mentioned above, the penalties include stiff fines, jail time, license suspension, probation, and permanent black marks on your criminal record.

Can You Go to Jail for a First DWI?

Yes. A first DWI conviction carries a jail sentence of three days to a year, depending on the severity of your BAC test.

How Long Does It Take to Get a First DWI Off Your Record?

Fortunately, the “second chance law” makes it possible for first DWI defendants to keep their conviction off their record. Contact us if you have questions about this law.

Can the Officer Take My License Without a DWI Conviction?

Yes. If you refuse or fail a DWI blood alcohol content (BAC) test, the officer can take your license at the point of arrest. You’ll be given a “notice of suspension” which you can use as a driving permit. You’ll have 15 days to arrange a hearing to contest your license suspension. Failing to do so will suspend your license for 90 days, starting 40 days after your arrest.

What If I Refuse a BAC Test at My DWI Arrest?

If you refuse a test, your license will automatically be suspended for 180 more days after your temporary license expires. If your DWI charges are dismissed, though, this suspension goes away. First DWI offenders may be eligible for an occupational license that will allow essential driving to work, school, and the supermarket during the suspension if they have an ignition interlock installed.

Can My Insurance Company Refuse to Pay for My Accident?

Yes. If your DWI caused an accident and was elevated to a felony, your insurance company will probably invoke a common clause in your policy that allows them to exclude coverage for damages that occur during the commission of a felony.