Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

The Law
Explanation of DWI Law
Punishment Ranges


The Law

TEXAS PENAL CODE 49.04 - Driving While Intoxicated

(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.

Explanation of the Law

A person commits DWI if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours. If an open container of alcohol was in the driver's immediate possession, the minimum term of confinement is six days. A second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 30 days. A third DWI is a third degree felony. A second DWI within 5 years will cause installation of a breath test devise on the vehicle to prevent operation if ethyl alcohol is detected in the operator's breath.

Intoxicated means not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

If the driver had a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age, the DWI is a state jail felony, instead of a Class B misdemeanor.

The fact that the driver is or has been entitled to use the alcohol, controlled substance, drug, dangerous drug, or other substance is not a defense.

A person commits Boating While Intoxicated if the person is intoxicated while operating a watercraft. BWI is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.

A person commits Intoxication Assault if the person, by accident or mistake while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another person. Intoxication Assault is a third degree felony. Often, the injured person will be the driver's own passenger. If the passenger or another person dies, the offense is Intoxication Manslaughter, a second degree felony.

Each year, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) assesses a surcharge on the driver's license of drivers who during the past 3 years were convicted of DWI. The surcharge is $1,000 per year for 3 years. A second DWI conviction costs a surcharge of $1,500 per year for 3 years. If the driver had an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more, the surcharge is $2,000 per year for 3 years.

Driver licenses can be suspended for one year for DWI. Driving with a suspended license is a Class B misdemeanor with increased license suspension time. In addition, the DPS assesses a $250 surcharge on the license per year for 3 years.

If a driver of any age refuses a breath or blood test, the DPS shall suspend the driver's license for 180 days. The suspension term increases to two years if the driver has one or more alcohol-related or drug-related enforcement contacts during the past 10 years.

If a driver who is 21 years of age or more fails to pass the test for intoxication, the DPS shall suspend the driver's license for 90 days. The suspension term increases to one year if the driver has one or more alcohol-related or drug-related enforcement contacts during the past 10 years.

For a driver under the age of 21 years, the suspension term for failure to pass the test for intoxication is 60 days for the first offense, 120 days for the second, and 180 days for the third.

An ignition interlock device will have to be installed on the car of a person convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level of .15 or more, if the defendant is to receive probation.

Punishment Ranges

Class B Misdemeanor for DWI 1st
Class A Misdemeanor for DWI 2nd
3rd Degree Felony for DWI 3rd

We Can Help

At the Law Office of Justin Copeland we are dedicated to defending the rights of those in need, and we are committed to the presumption of innocence. We believe in our clients and will aggressively defend your rights, no matter the situation. We recognize that every case is different, and we will build a custom defense strategy based solely on the merits of your case. You can rest assured that we will aggressively fight for your rights.

While we deal with the legal issues in your case, we fully understand the pressures and anxieties that you have to deal with on a day to day basis. We will work to help you through this very difficult time. We are committed to providing you with a helping hand as well as an aggressive legal representation.

Contact an Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Law Office of Justin Copeland Today

At the Law Office of Justin Copeland we believe a client's defense is only as good as the relationship with his or her attorney. This relationship is best developed through open communication. For this reason, the Law Office of Justin Copeland is available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and Mr. Copeland personally returns all of his phone calls. We urge you to contact us today to setup a free initial consultation.

In the News


KXAN - August 6, 2008


The University Star - June 12, 2008

Contact Us

Travis County Office
1307 Nueces
Austin, TX 78701

Williamson County Office
600 Forest St.
Georgetown, TX 78626

Phone: 512.782.4402
Fax: 512.628.6010
Email: jcopeland@jcopelandlaw.com

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