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Texas DWI charges: Different drivers, different penalties?

Jan 26, 2017 | Criminal Defense, DWI

A Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) conviction in Texas can lead to serious criminal penalties. What factors explain the differences in sentences?

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If you are facing these charges, it is important to realize that the penalties of a conviction can vary. To get out of the handcuffs as fast as possible and limit the damage, you need a basic understanding of the factors taken into consideration when determining a potential sentence.

First consideration: The driver’s record. Courts may take a number of things into consideration when determining the penalty. The first thing that may be reviewed is the driver’s record.

The penalties generally increase in severity if the driver has previous DWI convictions. A first offense, for example, generally comes with a fine of up to $2,000, a prison sentence of up to 180 days and the loss of the driver’s license for up to one year. In contrast, a third offense can come with a $10,000 fine, up to 10 years in prison and a loss of the driver’s license for two years.

Second consideration: The details of the stop. The details that led to the stop will also be reviewed. More serious penalties can apply if the charges are connected to a serious car accident as opposed to an officer simply pulling over a car for a potential traffic violation.

Various other factors can also be taken into account. Another example involves the presence of a child in the vehicle. If this is the case, the penalties can be further increased.

Third consideration: Judges are people. As noted in a recent piece by a local CBS affiliate, it is also important to keep in mind that the judges who are setting these sentences are people. People will choose various sentence options for various reasons. The penalties listed above are suggestions. This can result in variation for two different drivers with essentially the same case.

Fourth consideration: The power of legal counsel. Those who are facing these charges are wise to build a strong defense.

An experienced attorney can help better ensure your legal rights are protected. This legal professional can review the details of your charges and tailor a defense to your case, better ensuring a more favorable outcome.