Texas has some of the toughest DWI laws in the nation. With mandatory jail sentences, thousands of dollars in fines, and the loss of your license for up to two years if you are convicted, getting arrested for drinking and driving by a Dallas-Fort Worth area police officer or deputy is serious business.

Let’s say someone with no prior DWIs gets pulled over and arrested, and they end up pleading guilty to the charge or being found guilty at trial. That person can expect to face the following at sentencing:

  • At least three days in jail and up to 180 days behind bars
  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Driver’s license suspension of up to a year

In addition, the state will impose a fine of $3,000 for a first offense within a 36-month period.

2nd and 3rd offense sentencing gets even tougher

As tough as those penalties are, they get even stricter once you have a DWI on your record. A second conviction can mean:

  • Between 30 and 365 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $4,000, plus another $4,500 if it is your second conviction within 36 months
  • The loss of your license for up to two years

Many states use “look-back” periods of a certain number of years when considering if a DWI is a second offense. Not Texas. If you have ever had a DWI and get convicted a second time, the enhanced sentencing guidelines apply to your case.

Finally, a third offense would mean the following punishments:

  • Between two and ten years in prison
  • License suspension for up to two years
  • A $10,000 fine, plus another $4,500 if convicted previously within the past 36 months

Don’t panic

It’s natural to worry about going to jail, losing your driver’s license, and being forced to pay a huge fine after a DWI arrest. But you may have options to keep those things from happening, like negotiating a plea deal that reduces the charge against you, or entering a pretrial diversion program.