DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) Overview

DWI Overview

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in Texas, with severe consequences that can impact your life, reputation, and financial stability. Understanding the intricacies of Texas DWI law is essential for anyone facing these charges. This overview will provide you with valuable information including the consequences of a Texas DWI, the legal process, and the importance of hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and reach a favorable outcome.

DWI Offenses

In Texas, a DWI offense occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. Intoxication is defined as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, although you can be arrested for DWI if you are below 0.08% if the officer believes you have lost the normal use of your mental or physical abilities. When pulled over for suspicion of DWI, Law Enforcement Officers often use chemical tests to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or detect the presence of drugs. The most common tests are breathalyzer tests and blood tests. Breathalyzer tests estimate your BAC by analyzing your breath, while blood tests directly measure the alcohol or drug content in your blood. It is important to note that you have the right to refuse these tests, but doing so may result in additional penalties, such as license suspension. Furthermore, even if you refuse the blood test, a judge can authorize a warrant that allows law enforcement to force you to provide a blood sample. Law Enforcement Officers also rely on field sobriety tests to determine if someone is driving while intoxicated. These tests are formulated by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and commonly consist of the HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) test, one-leg-stand, and walk and turn. Although these tests are constantly scrutinized for being unreliable, Law Enforcement Officers rely heavily on them to determine if someone is intoxicated. 

DWI First Offense – Class B Misdemeanor

  • Fine up to $2,000
  • Three days to 180 days in jail
  • Loss of driver license for up to a year

DWI Second Offense – Class A Misdemeanor

  • Fine up to $4,000
  • One month to a year in jail
  • Loss of driver license up to two years

DWI Third Offense – Third Degree Felony

  • Fine up to $10,000
  • Two to 10 years in jail
  • Loss of driver license up to two years

ALR Hearing

Upon being charged with a DWI in Texas, you may request an ALR (Administrative License Revocation) hearing. This hearing is separate from the criminal court proceedings and determines the fate of your driver's license. ALR hearings usually include an attorney representing DPS (Department of Public Safety), the arresting officers, and your defense attorney. It is important to request this hearing within 15 days of your arrest to challenge the suspension of your license. Failure to do so can result in an automatic suspension. This hearing is also important for your criminal case because your attorney can question the arresting officer to determine if they conducted field sobriety tests correctly, if they had probable cause for the arrest and if they had reasonable suspicion to pull you over. Anything the officer says in this hearing can be used at trial or during plea negotiations to help prove your innocence.

Plea Negotiations

In some cases, the prosecution may be open to plea negotiations. This involves discussions between your attorney and the prosecutor to potentially reach a favorable resolution, such as reduced charges or penalties. The specific details of the negotiation process will vary depending on the circumstances of your case and the willingness of the prosecution to negotiate. Texas law changed in 2017 and now allows Deferred Adjudication Probation for some DWIs, which is a form of probation that allows you to avoid a conviction and clean it off your record if you successfully complete it.


If a plea agreement cannot be reached or if you choose to proceed to trial, your case will be heard by the judge seated in the court that your case is assigned to. The trial process involves presenting evidence, witnesses, and arguments from both the prosecution and your defense attorney. Our attorneys at McDaniel Law Group will attack every piece of evidence the State puts forth against you, including the reason for the stop, whether or not they had probable cause for the arrest, whether or not they conducted the field sobriety tests correctly, whether or not they conducted the blood or breath test correctly, and anything else that can help us win.


Facing DWI charges in Texas can be a daunting experience, but understanding the legal process will help you navigate through it. It is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who is familiar in DWI defense to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome. Remember, each case is unique, and the information provided here is a general overview. If you find yourself charged with a DWI, seek professional legal counsel immediately.