A DWI Charge: Will You Go to Jail?


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A DWI Charge: Will You Go to Jail?

If you are facing a DWI charge, you are going through a very stressful situation, and your topmost concern may be whether you will have to spend time in jail. The State of Texas takes DWI charges extremely seriously, and there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence if you are convicted. In Texas – as in nearly every other state – you can be arrested if you are stopped and are determined to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher.

Mandatory State Minimums for Convictions

If you are convicted of a first DWI offense, there is a mandatory minimum jail time of 72 hours. If, however, your BAC exceeds 0.15 percent, you could face up to 12 months in jail for a first offense. For a second conviction in a five-year period, the mandatory minimum sentence is 30 days behind bars. For a third conviction in the same five-year period, you will face a whopping sentence of from 2 to 20 years in jail. Again, Texas takes its DWI charges very seriously.


If your DWI charge involves any of the following factors, you can face an enhanced sentence:

  • Causing bodily injury to another person (a third-degree felony that carries 2 to 10 years in prison)

  • Leading to wrongful death (a second-degree felony that carries from 2 to 20 years in prison)

  • Having a passenger in one’s vehicle who is younger than 15 at the time of the DWI arrest (a child endangerment charge that can increase one’s sentence by from 180 days to 2 years)

No Priors and No Enhancements

If you have no prior DWI convictions and no enhancements or extenuating circumstances apply, the court may consider downgrading your DWI charge to a wet reckless. This is typically a misdemeanor charge, and a conviction does not require time behind bars. The state also has diversion programs in place that can help the accused bypass jail time.

A DWI Conviction

The fact is that a first DWI conviction can lead to a mandatory stay in jail, but there is a lot more to it than those 72 hours behind bars. Because your convection is a public record, it can have lasting negative consequences in your life that include:

  • Affecting your ability to find a job

  • Affecting your ability to rent a home or apartment or obtain a home loan

  • Affecting your ability to maintain professional licensure

  • Affecting your ability to live on campus, be accepted to college, or obtain a student loan

If you are facing a DWI charge, bringing your strongest defense is paramount.

Look to an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with DWI, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas – is a well-respected criminal defense lawyer who is well-positioned to help you effectively and efficiently fight the charge and obtain your case's best possible resolution. Our intrepid legal team is here to help, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.

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