DWI Penalties

Close up photo of hands clasped together through jail cell bars

If you have been charged with a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense in Dallas, you could face serious criminal DWI penalties. If convicted, your sentence could include the following punishments:

  • Jail or prison sentences,
  • Steep fines,
  • Surcharges for years after a DWI conviction,
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for a lengthy time period,
  • Community service hours,
  • Required attendance at an approved alcohol or drug education program,
  • Court costs,
  • Fees
  • A driver’s license suspension,
  • Hefty fees for reinstating a license, and/or
  • A possible permanent criminal record.

The consequences of a drunk driving conviction extend far beyond the criminal penalties. If you’re convicted of a felony DWI charge, you could lose the right to own or possess a gun. You would be ineligible for public office and your voting privileges would be revoked.

DWI offenders may also be prevented from obtaining certain professional licenses. If you’re a doctor or lawyer, this could ruin your livelihood. And if you ever need to apply for public housing, a criminal record could prevent you from being accepted.

Dallas DWI Penalties Lawyer

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy if you have been charged with a DWI offense in Dallas or any of the surrounding areas in Texas. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy represents clients in Garland, Irving, Grand Prairie, Mesquite, Carrollton, Richardson, and many other communities in North Texas. Dallas lawyer Richard C. McConathy has represented thousands of clients since opening his firm in 2002.

Any DWI offense could result in serious penalties and repercussions. Hiring an experienced Dallas DWI lawyer is your best defense to avoiding the harshest punishments. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your charges and the DWI penalties you may face.


Dallas DWI Penalties Information Center


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Dallas DWI Charges

If an individual operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, they can be charged with a DWI under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04. An individual is considered intoxicated if they meet one of the following conditions:

  • Their mental or physical capacity is reduced as a result of alcohol and/or drugs; or
  • Their blood-alcohol content level is 0.08 or greater.

If this is a first offense, the individual can be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor offense.

Other DWI offenses can include:

  • Second DWI Offense – This offense is generally punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Third or subsequent DWI offense – This offense is generally punishable as a felony of the third degree.
  • DWI with a Child Passenger – This offense is generally punishable as a state jail felony.
  • Flying While Intoxicated – This offense is generally punishable as a Class B misdemeanor.
  • Boating While Intoxicated – This offense is generally punishable as a Class B misdemeanor.
  • Intoxication Assault – This offense is generally punishable as either a felony of the third or second degree.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter – This offense is generally punishable as either a felony of the second or first degree.

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DWI Jail or Prison Sentences

One of the most serious DWI penalties you could face is incarceration. Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code provides maximum and minimum jail and prison sentences for misdemeanor and felony driving while intoxicated offenses. The following is a list of the minimum and maximum statutory suggested imprisonment for each degree of DWI conviction:

  • Class B misdemeanor – 72 hours to 180 days in jail,
  • Class A misdemeanor – 30 days to one year in jail,
  • State jail felony – 180 days to two years in jail,
  • Felony of the third degree – two to ten years in prison,
  • Felony of the second degree – two years to 20 years in prison, and
  • Felony of the first degree – five years to 99 years or life in prison.

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Fines for DWI in Dallas

Monetary penalties are another one of the most common DWI penalties you could face if convicted. All felony DWI offenses can result in a maximum fine of $10,000.

Class A misdemeanor felony offenses can incur a fine up to $4,000 and Class B misdemeanor offenses can result in a fine not more than $2,000. Although these are the maximum fines an individual can pay for a DWI conviction, the court may impose additional fines, fees and costs for various reasons.


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Texas Ignition Interlock Device Installation

An ignition interlock device prevents an individual from driving their vehicle if they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their breath. The machine is similar to a breathalyzer, where the driver must blow into the machine to determine their breath-alcohol concentration.

The driver must not have any alcohol in their breath to start the car’s ignition. Many ignition interlock devices will also require the driver to submit to what’s called a “rolling re-test.” A rolling re-test forces the driver to blow into the machine once they’ve started driving. The re-test is designed to catch drivers who have consumed alcohol since starting the vehicle.

Texas Penal Code 49.09(h) requires any person who receives a second or subsequent DWI within five years of the previous DWI offense to install and maintain a “deep-lung” air device, or ignition interlock device, on any car they own or operate. Many courts will also impose an ignition interlock device installation for other DWI offenses or when an individual is on probation for a DWI offense.

Once installed, monthly fees must be paid for calibration ad maintenance of the ignition interlocking device. The driver may face additional penalties if they don’t install the device or fail to do so within the necessary timeframe.


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Driver’s License Suspensions for DWI in Dallas

A DWI conviction will result in suspension of the convicted individual’s license under Texas Transportation Code Section 521.344. The suspension cannot begin before the date of conviction and no later than the 30th day after conviction. The following are the statutory driver’s license suspensions for DWI offenses:

  • First DWI offenses – 90 days to one year
  • Second or subsequent DWI offenses – 180 days to two years
  • Second or subsequent DWI offenses within five years of the preceding offense – one to two years
  • Second or subsequent DWI Assault within five years – 90 days to one plus an additional one year
  • First DWI manslaughter – 180 days to two years
  • Second or subsequent DWI manslaughter within ten years – one to two years
  • Under 21 DWI – one year

If an individual does not successfully complete an alcohol education program required by the court, their license can be suspended until the program has been successfully completed.


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Surcharges for Dallas DWI Offenses

Texas Transportation Code Section 708.102 defines driver’s license surcharges that must be paid following a drunk driving conviction. Surcharges are an administrative fee paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety for certain convictions as reported in the individual’s driving record.

If an individual has been finally convicted of a DWI offense within the preceding three years, they will have to pay a surcharge every year for a period of three years.

Most DWI offenses will be assessed a surcharge for $1,000 per year for a period of three years. However, a second or subsequent DWI conviction within three years of the preceding offense will increase the surcharge to $1,500 per year. If the DWI offender had a high alcohol concentration level of 0.16 or more, they will be required to pay a $2,000 surcharge for three years.


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Probation (Community Supervision) for DWI

Instead of spending time in jail or prison, you could be placed on probation (also called “community supervision” in Texas). Probation, usually offered to first-time DWI offenders, is great because you may remain free after a DWI conviction. But if you violate your probation, you could end up behind bars anyway.

Probation is essentially a suspension of your term of incarceration. Probation terms typically range from 6 months to 2 years. Instead of serving a sentence in a correctional institution, you are allowed to continue living your normal life. But there are some restrictions.

You will be asked to submit to random drug and alcohol tests to confirm you’re remaining sober. You will also be required to meet with a probation officer in person on a regular basis.

You will be required to participate in DWI-related educational events, such as taking a class or listening to a speech by a person who lost a loved one to drunk driving. You must also pay a monthly probation supervision fee on top of any court costs and fines imposed as part of your DWI penalties.

If you fail to uphold any of your responsibilities, you could be imprisoned for violating the terms of your probation. Not only that, but you could face additional monetary penalties on top of whatever you’ve already been fined. You may also be required to complete additional community service as part of your sentence.

For more information on the topic, you can visit our dedicated page on probation/community supervision here.


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DWI Penalty Resources in Dallas

Texas Constitution and Statutes – This link is to chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code, which defines the penalties for misdemeanor and felony DWI offenses throughout Dallas.

Texas Constitution and Statutes – This link is to section 708.102 of the Texas Transportation Code, which pertains to surcharges for certain DWI offenses. Visit this website to learn the amount of the surcharges and which offenses can result in surcharges.

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles – The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website contains information about driver’s license suspensions, SR-22 forms, and options to reinstate a driver’s license. A Dallas County regional service center is located at:

1925 E. Beltline Rd., Suite 100
Carrollton, Texas 75006
Phone: (972) 417-0884

Texas Department of Public Safety – Driver Responsibility Program – This website provides information on the surcharges assessed each year for individuals who have been convicted of a DWI offense in Texas. A Dallas DPS office is located at:

Southwest Dallas DPS
5610 Red Bird Center Drive, Ste. 500
Dallas, Texas 75237
Phone: (214) 330-3958


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Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy | Fort Worth DUI Penalties Attorney

Dallas defense attorney Richard McConathy poses for a photo in his officeContact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your DWI charges throughout Dallas County in Texas. Richard McConathy is an experienced Dallas DUI defense lawyer who will make every effort to help you avoid the harshest punishments and consequences to your alleged DWI offense.

Call (972) 233-5700 for a free consultation about your alleged DWI. One of the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy will walk you through the process so you know what to expect. They will also make sure you understand the potential DWI penalties you face if convicted. But the goal is to dismiss or reduce your charges whenever possible.

The firm represents clients in Dallas County and the surrounding counties of Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Johnson, and Ellis.


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This article was last updated on Thursday, January 31, 2019.

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