How long you may spend behind bars — and whether you serve time in a county jail or state prison — for a Texas drunk driving conviction depends on several factors. These include:
- Your history of driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges
- The circumstances of your stop and arrest
- Your level of intoxication
- Any aggravating circumstances or additional charges
- Whether the Judge opts to probate your sentence
In general, a first offense DWI offender who had a blood alcohol concentration below .15 can expect to spend up to six months in a county jail.
Sentencing for a First DWI Offense in Texas
A first offense DWI in Texas is a Class B Misdemeanor, calling for a sentence of between three days and six months. However, there is no minimum sentence required following a first offense. If the Judge opts to probate your sentence, you could avoid jail time entirely by following the terms of your probation and avoiding additional charges while you are on probation.
Jail Time Following a Second DWI Offense
The District Attorney will charge a second DWI offense in Texas as a Class A Misdemeanor. This type of charge could result in time in the county jail ranging from 30 days to 365 days. If the Judge probates your sentence, you will likely need to spend at least three days in the local jail but may be able to avoid additional time behind bars.
Jail Time for Third and Subsequent DWI Offenses in Texas
Texas law takes repeat DWI offenders seriously. After your third or subsequent arrests, you could face Third Degree Felony charges. With a felony conviction, you will spend your time behind bars in a state prison instead of a county jail. They could imprison you at any facility in the state, and you may not be close enough to family and friends for regular visits. The sentences for a felony offense will also likely be significantly longer. Under Texas law, you could face two to ten years in prison, and will likely need to serve a minimum sentence behind bars even if the Court probates your prison time.
Serving Additional Jail Time for Aggravating Circumstances
When there are aggravating circumstances in addition to drunk or drugged driving in your case, it can significantly increase the time you spend in county jail or state prison. For example, if you have a high blood alcohol concentration (.15 or above), this may be a Class A misdemeanor, and you could spend up to a year in jail for your first offense. Other examples include:
Having an open container in the passenger area of your vehicle increases the minimum jail time associated with a first offense to six days.
If you cause an accident while intoxicated and your passenger or the occupant of another vehicle suffers serious injuries, you could face a Felony of the Third Degree charge. A conviction brings with it two to ten years in a state prison. There is a minimum jail sentence attached to this type of charge even when the Judge offers probation.
When someone dies as a result of a drunk driving crash you caused, you could face two to 20 years in prison for this Second Degree Felony. There will be a minimum sentence even if the Court grants you probation.
Minimizing Jail Time Following a Texas Drunk Driving Conviction
In some cases, you may qualify for a probated sentence following a Texas DWI conviction. This means you will not need to serve the full jail or prison time the Judge handed down. Probation is an agreement between you and the Court stating you will follow the terms set by the Judge for a period to avoid some of the harsh consequences of your conviction.
If you follow the rules of your probation closely, you could avoid jail time altogether for a first offense and limit the time you spend behind bars for subsequent DWI and drunk driving-related arrests.
Talk to a Texas DWI Defense Attorney About Your Arrest Today
If the police recently arrested you or you face DWI charges in Texas, the team from Eddington Worley is here to help. We are standing by to talk about the circumstances of your arrest and the facts of your case. Let us build a strong DWI defense and help you fight the charges you face.
Call us today at 855-508-9785 to get started