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What Happens When You Get a DUI in Texas?

5 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

A first-time DUI conviction in Texas will typically result in a license suspension and fines of up to $2,000. If other circumstances of your DUI are not in your favor, the consequences can be more severe.

If you are arrested in Texas for driving with an alcohol level that is over the legal limit (0.8%), you will be facing DUI charges. Note that it may only take a few drinks for your blood alcohol level to exceed the legal limit. This is why it’s always best to have someone else drive you home or call a taxi if you’ve had anything to drink. 

First-time DUI offenses in Texas are classified as a misdemeanor. This means that unless there are aggravating circumstances to your case, you will not do any jail time. However, your license will most likely be suspended and there may be more long-term repercussions for your offense.

To have a clear idea of what charges you are looking at and what you can do to minimize your sentence and avoid jail time, you will need to consult a DUI attorney. Note that even though the penalties for a first-time DUI may seem quite light, they can quickly escalate to something more serious.

What Are the Consequences of a First DUI in Texas?

If you’ve been charged with a DUI for the first time, you may be looking at the following sentencing options:

  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • From three to 180 days of jail time
  • A suspension of your driver’s license (for up to two years)
  • The requirement to attend a DUI school or a similar education program
  • The requirement to use an ignition interlock device (IID)

However, even if this is your first DUI, your penalty may be elevated under specific circumstances. For instance, if your blood alcohol is higher than 0.15%,  if you had a minor in your car at the time of the offense, if you were speeding, etc. your charges for the DUI may be enhanced. This will also be the case if this is not your first offense.

What Are the Consequences of a Repeat DUI in Texas?

If this is your second DUI, you will be looking at harsher penalties that may include the following:

  • Up to $4,000 in fines
  • One month to one year in jail
  • Suspension of a driver’s license for up to two years

Note that any subsequent offenses will come with even harsher penalties.

A third DUI offense is considered a third-degree felony. It comes with a fine of up to  

$10,000 and a prison sentence of up to ten years. 

A fourth DUI and any subsequent offenses carry a maximum fine of up to $20,000 and a maximum prison sentence of up to ten years.

In most cases, your sentence won’t reach the maximum. However, it depends on the circumstances of your case and the effectiveness of your legal help.

Note that in addition to the immediate consequences that come after a DUI, you may also face long-term implications.

Having a DUI conviction may make it difficult to find work or continue your current employment. It will also affect your custodial rights, especially if your child was in the vehicle at the time of the arrest. 

You may have a hard time obtaining or renewing a professional license as many licensing entities in Texas have rules that prohibit awarding licenses to those convicted of a DUI. If you are convicted of a felony DUI, you may also lose some of your fundamental rights such as the right to own a firearm or the right to vote.

How to Apply for a Restricted License in Texas

If your license has been suspended as a result of a DUI, you may apply for a restricted license. The purpose of this license is to let you fulfill the necessary obligations such as driving to work while your license is suspended. There are two main types of restricted licenses in Texas: occupational licenses and restricted interlock licenses.

An occupational license lets you drive for specific purposes: driving to and from work, managing household chores, driving to school or college, etc. This type of license is typically granted for a period of one year.

A restricted interlock license gives you back your driving privileges provided your vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device. An ignition interlock device (IID) is a tool that won’t let your car start until you’ve taken a breathalyzer test. If alcohol is detected, your car simply won’t start.

There are several conditions you will need to fulfill before you can apply for a restricted driver’s license. It’s best to consult a DUI attorney to learn more about your options as they depend on the specific circumstances of your DUI offense.

How Texas DUI Lawyers Help Clients

Hiring a DUI attorney is strongly advised in a DUI conviction, even if this is your first offense. Having professional help will help you get a realistic overview of your situation and, hopefully, minimize the consequences of your DUI.

A DUI attorney can help you research your case and explore the circumstances of your arrest, explain what charges you are facing, and suggest the best strategy for dealing with your charges. 

If this is not your first DUI or if your DUI comes with aggravating circumstances, you may be facing severe consequences. DUI cases may result in the loss of your driver’s license and even jail time. A DUI trial can quickly get complicated. Not having an attorney by your side can put you at a significant disadvantage as law enforcement escalates.

While you can legally represent yourself in court, this is not recommended. Unless you are an experienced lawyer yourself, you will most likely lack the legal knowledge needed to address your charges. You may also be unaware of potential attenuating circumstances and strategies that might help you reduce your sentence. 

Affordable legal representation is available if you’re involved in a Texas DUI incident. Before you go further, have a free call with a DUI attorney. After a free consultation about your case, lawyers in Unbundled Legal Help’s network provide full representation for 50% less than most other attorneys.

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