Texas DWI Laws & Penalties

Texas DWI

DWI law in Texas falls under penal code § 49.04. DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED, and is considered a class B misdemeanor.  Here are the specific charges within the penal code;

  • (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 Subsection (c) 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.


The legal limit in regards to (BAC) blood alcohol concentration in Texas while driving is 0.08%. Texas is considered a zero tolerance state pertaining to underage drinking; any detectable amount (.02% BAC or greater) of alcohol in drivers under 21 is considered a crime. 

Here is what you can expect as far as punishments for DWI offenses in Texas:

Punishments for a Texas DWI Offense

Texas DWI First Offense

  • Class B misdemeanor
  • Jail:  3-180 days
  • Fines:  $2000
  • Drivers License Suspension:  90 days up to 1 year
  • Alcohol assessment /evaluation and treatment

Texas DWI Second Offense

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Jail:  30 days up to 1 year
  • Fines:  $4000
  • Drivers License Suspension:  180 days up to 2 years
  • Alcohol assessment /evaluation and treatment

Texas DWI Third Offense

  • Considered a third degree Felony
  • Jail:  2 to 10 years
  • Fines:  $10,000
  • Drivers License Suspension:  180 days up to 2 years
  • Alcohol assessment /evaluation and treatment

In addition to the above Texas DWI offenses there are additional “enhancements” that can carry increased fines, suspensions, imprisonment, etc… They are listed below, 

First Offense Texas DWI With an Open Container

  • All First Offense Texas DWI penalties above
  • In addition to 1st offense penalties:  add 6 day jail term and a fine of $2000

Texas DWI with Serious Bodily Injury due to Intoxication

  • Classified as a form of assault called intoxication assault which is a 3rd degree Felony
  • Jail:  2 to 10 years if convicted
  • Fines:  $10,000

Texas DWI with a Death Due to Intoxication

  • Classified as manslaughter and called, "intoxication manslaughter" and considered a 2nd degree Felony
  • Fine:  $10,000
  • Jail:  2-20 years depending on specifics

Texas DWI with a Child Passenger

  • Child is considered to be any person age 15 years or younger
  • Jail:  180 days up to 2 years
  • Fine:  $10,000

Texas Administrative License Revocation Program (ALR Program)

A law enforcement officer observes you and believes that there is a reasonable suspicion for him/her to pull you over for violation of traffic laws, etc... While conducting the traffic stop the officer develops probable cause to arrest the person for driving while intoxicated or DWI. If the officer has reason to believe that the driver is impaired, they may ask you to submit to a series of field sobriety tests. If you perform unsatisfactorily, you will be arrested for DWI and taken to the police station.

At the police station, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In most cases you will be asked to take a breath test, although in some cases the officer may request a blood test instead. If you refuse to provide a sample, or provide a sample with an alcohol concentration of .08% or greater (if you're 21 or over), the officer will issue you a Notice of Suspension and confiscate your drivers license.

Texas Adult ALR Hearing Procedures

If you failed the breath or blood test, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) must determine whether:

  • The accused person had an blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater while operating a motor vehicle in a public place; and
  • If there was a reasonable suspicion to stop initially OR if probable cause to arrest the person actually existed.

If you refused to submit to a chemical test, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) must determine whether:

  • Reasonable suspicion or probable cause existed to stop or arrest the person;
  • Probable cause actually existed to believe that you were operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated;
  • You were placed under arrest by the officer and were requested to submit to the taking of a sample; and
  • You refused to submit to the taking of a sample on request of the officer.

If you're 21 or above and the Texas ALR hearing determines you to be guilty of the offenses then a 1st offense will result in a 180 day drivers license suspension. 

Texas DWI Attorneys

DUI Arrest Help.com has compiled a list of skilled DWI defense attorneys in Texas who have agreed to offer you a free initial consultation to discuss your case.  There is no obligation to use them, and you can get some great information about what you should do in this free consultation.  

Click here to speak with one of our Texas DWI lawyers.

Insurance Considerations for a Texas DWI

SR-22 insurance is required in the state of Texas after a DUI conviction.  This type of insurance is classified as 'high risk' meaning you are a higher risk to the insurance companies so consequently they will charge more for taking on more risk.  This can get very expensive if you sign up for one of these policies with the wrong company.

DUI Arrest Help.com has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of Texas and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a cheaper SR22 insurance policy in Texas for any less.  Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.



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Additional Texas DWI Resources

  • Texas DWI First Offense -  Detailed first offense information including punishments after a first offense DWI in Texas.

  • Texas SR22 Insurance -  Learn everything you need to know about Texas SR22 filing requirements with the DMV and find out how you can save hundreds of dollars each year on your TX SR22 insurance.

  • Texas DWI Lawyers -   Contact one of our Texas DWI lawyers today.

  • Texas Alcohol & Drug Education Programs - We offer a complete listing of Texas approved alcohol & drug education programs.