Texas DWI Laws: FAQ

Is Drinking and Driving a Crime in Texas?

It is not a crime to drink and drive in Texas. However, you may not legally drive if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) has exceeded the maximum percentage allowed under Texas law or if your ability to drive safely is impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both.

What Is the Legal Drinking Limit for Drivers in Texas?

The blood alcohol limit in Texas is a 0.08 BAC, unless you are under the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21 and your BAC is 0.02 or higher then you are legally intoxicated. Additionally, the legal limit for commercial drivers is a BAC of 0.04 or more.

What Are the Penalties for a DWI in Texas?


  • (Class B misdemeanor) – Punishable as a fine not to exceed $2,000.00,
  • Jail Time: 72 hours to 180 days,
  • Driver’s license suspension: 90 days- 1 Year,
  • The court may probate the jail sentence and waive the driver license suspension on the first offense ONLY, and
  • Possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage increases the minimum term of confinement by 3 days to 6 days for a 1st offense.


  • (Class A misdemeanor) – Punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000.00,
  • Jail Time: 30 days-1 year, and
  • Driver’s license suspension: 180 days-2 Years

3rd (or subsequent) DWI OFFENSE:

  • (Felony of the Third Degree) – Punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000.00,
  • Imprisonment  In State Penitentiary: 2-10 years, and
  • Driver’s license (or driving privilege) suspension: 180 days-2 years.

DWI with Child Passenger Under 15

  • (State Jail Felony) – Punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000
  • Jail: 180 Days-2 Years

Intoxication Assault (DWI Causing serious injury):

  • (Felony of the Third Degree) – Punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000.00,
  • Confinement in State Penitentiary: 2-10 Years, and
  • Driver license suspension: 90 Days-1 Year

Intoxication Manslaughter (DWI resulting in another person’s death):

  • (Felony of the Second Degree) – Punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000.00,
  • Confinement in State Penitentiary: 2-10 Years, and
  • Driver’s license suspension; 180 Days-2 Years.

What Happens After a DWI Arrest in Texas?

  1. Administrative License Revocation: To preserve your right to drive in Texas, you must request a hearing within 15 days of when you were served with a Notice of Suspension (usually the date of arrest). If you timely requested a hearing to contest your license suspension, you will be able to continue driving until the hearing. If you lose at the hearing, you can’t drive after the hearing. If your license is suspended at the hearing, you may be able to secure an occupational license to drive.
  2. 1st Appearance: If you have been arrested and released for a misdemeanor DWI, you will be given a date to return to court (usually 30 days after your arrest). If you hire an attorney, the attorney can usually make this appearance for you, so that you do not have to attend. During this 30 day period, the case is sent to the County Attorney’s office for further investigation. The County Attorney then prepares information and files with the County Clerk, and your case is set on the court’s docket.
  3. Pre­trial Conference: Your attorney will discuss your case with the County Attorney to discuss the best possible resolution of your case. This conference will happen about 8-10 weeks after your 1st Appearance date.
  4. Suppression Hearing: The Court may suppress some or all of the evidence against you if your constitutional rights have been violated. Your attorney will file motions to suppress. It occurs anywhere 6 weeks to 3 months after the pre­trial conference.
  5. Trial: You may either request a bench trial wherein the court hears the case or a jury trial wherein a jury of your peers hears the case. If the case is a misdemeanor, the trial will be to a jury of six. If the case is a felony, the jury will be to a jury of twelve. Sentencing: The Court imposes a sentence after a conviction at trial or after a plea bargain is accepted and a plea entered. Sentences may include jail time, numerous fees, fines, community service, alcohol education classes and/or treatment.

What Are the Terms Used for Drunk Driving Offenses in Texas?

A person arrested for drunk driving in Texas will be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”). Moreover, the definition of Intoxication, under Texas DWI law, includes both drugs and alcohol. However, the term used for a drunk driving offense for a driver under age 21 Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol By A Minor (“DUI by a Minor”).

What Happens if I Refuse To Consent To a Chemical Blood or Breath Test When Pulled Over for DWI in Texas?

According to Texas’ implied consent law once you receive your driver’s license you automatically consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine to determine blood alcohol content or the presence of drugs. If you refuse the test driver’s license will be taken away immediately and you will be issued a temporary driver’s license until your court hearing. During your hearing, the refusal may be used as evidence against you and the court may rule to suspend your driver’s license.

Will I Be Able To Get My Drunk Driving Case in Texas Dismissed Because I Was Not Read My Rights?

Probably not. But if you were interrogated after being placed in custody, your statements cannot be used against you.

What Will Happen if I Do Not Complete Court Ordered Classes or Public Service After a DWI Conviction in Texas?

You will go to jail if you do not complete the alcohol classes and your license will be suspended.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) by a Minor?

DUI by a Minor (Age 10-16)

  • Punishable by a fine up to $500.00,
  • Not less than 40 nor more than 60 hours of community service, and
  • The minor’s driver license may be suspended (or driving privilege denied).

1st Offense DUI by a Minor (Age 17-20):

  • (Class C misdemeanor) – Punishable by a fine of up to $500.00,
  • 20-40 hours of community service,
  • Attendance in an Alcohol Awareness Course is required, and if the minor is under 18, the parent may be required to attend the course, and
  • The minor’s driver license will be suspended for 120 days.

2nd Offense DUI by a Minor (Age 17-20):

  • (Class C misdemeanor) – Punishable by a fine of up to $500.00,
  • 40-60 hours of community service,
  • Alcohol Awareness Course may be required. 

3rd Offense DUI by a Minor (17-20)

  • (Class B misdemeanor) – Punishable by a fine not less than $500.00 or more than $2,000.00,
  • 40-60 hours of community service, and/or
  • Confinement in jail not to exceed 180 days. Additionally, the court may not give deferred disposition on the third offense of DUI by a minor.