Being charged with a DWI is a serious matter, even if your breath or blood alcohol content (BAC) level was low and you are a first time offender. In addition to the fines, court costs, and criminal penalties you could be facing, a conviction could impact other areas of your life, as well. As the result of these charges appearing on your permanent record, you could face difficulties in obtaining certain types of employment, housing, or student loans. Fortunately, our Austin DWI defense lawyers may be able to help reduce these impacts by guiding you toward programs designed to help first time offenders.
Penalties You Face for a First Time DWI in Texas
Under Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code , operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance is a criminal violation. A first offense for driving with a BAC of .08% or greater is charged as a Class B misdemeanor, resulting in fines of up to $2,000, a minimum three-month driver’s license suspension, and a mandatory 72-hour jail sentence.
If your BAC level of .15% or greater, it is classified as a Class misdemeanor, resulting in increased fines, jail time, and up to a one-year license suspension. This is in addition to administrative penalties you face, which may include license reinstatement fees, yearly surcharges, and possibly having to use an ignition interlock device system, which prevents you from operating the vehicle if any amount of alcohol is detected on your breath.
While there are deferred adjudication programs in Texas that allow first time offenders to perform supervised community service to avoid a conviction and a criminal record, in the past, these were not available for people facing DWI charges . However, a new law signed into effect in 2017 could potentially help those with a first time DWI, allowing them to avoid some of the negative impacts associated with these charges.
In 2017, Governor Abbott signed into effect HB 3016 , which allows those with a first time DWI offense to apply for a non-disclosure. This prevents certain people from viewing your criminal record, which includes employers and certain government agencies. You may be eligible for this program if you meet certain guidelines:
● This is your first DWI offense;
● Your BAC level was less than 0.15;
● Your actions did not result in an accident or cause injuries to others;
● You have no prior criminal convictions on your record.
At Granger and Mueller PC , our goal is to help you avoid the serious ramifications associated with DWI charges. To discuss the options available in your case, contact our Travis County DUI lawyers to request a consultation today.