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DUI in Texas vs. Other States: Charges, Plea Bargains, and Avoiding Jail Time

— September 15, 2021

More often than not, spending time in jail is associated with drunk driving in Texas, even if it’s your first offense.

Driving drunk in Texas is an issue that the authorities take incredibly seriously. But, of course, you probably aren’t setting out to drive home drunk. Instead, you might plan on having one or two drinks after a tough day at work and time slips by, or you stay at a friend’s birthday party later than you planned.

Your brain doesn’t work well when under the influence of alcohol, so you may be able to convince yourself that you can make the short drive to your house and give it a try — only to find yourself getting pulled over.

Going through the field sobriety tests and failing, resulting in your arrest, can be an incredibly scary moment. Many thoughts will be running through your mind at this point, including confused and frightened musings on what will happen next. You might be wondering if you’ll have enough money for bail. You also might be wondering if you’ll be able to avoid jail time for your drunk driving offense.

Knowing what will happen next can help relieve a lot of your stresses and fears. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to contact a Dallas car accident lawyer so that they can answer any questions you might have.

You may be able to avoid jail time if your case meets certain specifications.

Texas vs. the Other States – DWI Charges, Convictions, and Plea Bargains

One of the first things you need to understand is that Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Texas is a serious offense. According to legal experts and authorities, DWIs are among the most common crimes in the state. No Police officer or judge will laugh off your DUI charge in any state, not even in those known for their leniency towards DUIs, like South Dakota or Wisconsin. Nevertheless, Texas has some of the strictest laws on DUI/DWI. It is not Arizona, and it is not California either, so you need to understand what is coming to you.

Your first DWI offense in Texas is usually a Class B misdemeanor, encompassing a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of (up to) 180 days. Many things also depend on your BAC, as it can turn your Class B into a Class A misdemeanor. In most cases, first offenders spend three days in county jail if they are not granted probation. Don’t breathe yet. Serious DWI convictions in Texas could carry $10,000 in fines, months/years of jail time, probation, and a lot more.

For this reason, having legal representation starting immediately after your pullover or arrest is mandatory. In most states, DUI plea bargains are available, and Texas does not make an exception, although things are different in California, for instance.

If you read this article here – – you will understand many things about plea bargains’ impact on DUI cases. As you will see from the conclusion, it is imperative to contact a DUI/DWI attorney in your state before you even nod in the prosecutor’s direction. California might seem more lenient with drunk driving than Texas, but you will not get away with a slap on the wrist either.

Interestingly, a “wet reckless” plea bargain is available in California and other states but not in Texas (in a similar manner). Here, a “wet reckless” plea bargain reduces the initial alcohol-related charge to a reckless driving charge. The reckless driving penalties (aggravated by alcohol consumption) are less harsh and impairing as a DWI conviction. The fine is lower, and instead of three months in jail, you could spend only thirty days. By comparison, a Californian wet reckless deal eliminates jail time, especially if your attorney is a pro in DUI law and plea bargains.

Does it sound too good to be true? With a wet reckless plea bargain, you may not go to jail in California, but it will show on your record. The issue stays with you for about ten years, so if you get arrested for another DUI/DWI during these ten years, you will find yourself in a lot of trouble. No matter the state you drive in, and where you get your DUI/DWI, you need to hire a lawyer in that state, even if you were visiting.

You also have to know that wet reckless plea bargains – or other similar deals – are easy to spot during an employer’s background check; therefore, they will affect your career overall.

So, the question is: if Texas is so harsh on DWIs, can you avoid jail time?

Jail Time for Drunk Driving in Texas

Prison Officer Jailed After an Affair with Murderer
Photo by Marco Chilese on Unsplash

More often than not, spending time in jail is associated with drunk driving in Texas, even if it’s your first offense. Several factors determine how much time you’ll spend behind bars, including the following:

  • Whether or not you have a history of drunk driving
  • The reasons behind why you were stopped and arrests
  • Your level of intoxication when you were arrested
  • If there are any additional charges or aggravating circumstances associated with your arrest
  • The judge who is overseeing your case

When it comes to the amount of jail time you can expect for drunk driving, the average sentences are as follows:

  • First offense – you could find yourself spending between three days and six months in jail
  • Second offense – you could be sentenced to between 30 and 365 days in jail
  • Third and subsequent offenses – if you get arrested three or more times for drunk driving in Texas, you could be facing felony charges. It will result in time in prison, not jail, and the length of your stay will depend on the severity of the situation. However, it could mean you spend up to 10 years in prison.

Since we talked about California, let’s see how they treat DUI charges. The first DUI offense lands you in jail for a minimum of 48 hours to a maximum of 6 months. If – in a period of 10 years – you have a fourth or more DUI on your name, you could spend up to three years in jail.

Avoiding Jail Time in Texas

Within that state of Texas, there is a chance that you could avoid jail time after a drunk driving conviction. But, again, this will depend on several factors, including if there were any extenuating circumstances during your arrest. 

To avoid jail time, you will be given a probated sentence. If you are put on probation, there will be a set of guidelines given to you from the court that you will have to follow. Your probation time also depends on many factors, so follow the court’s instructions, and your lawyer’s advice like your life depends on it. 

Following the terms of your probation is in your best interest, and it may result in you avoiding jail time for your drunk driving in the Texas offense. On the other hand, any deviation or violation of the probation rules could result in you going back to court and serving a jail sentence.

Getting Help for Drunk Driving Offenses

If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving in Texas – or anywhere else in the country –, you really should consider talking to a lawyer. Trying to navigate these trying times on your own could result in more stress and frustration than necessary and impact your sentencing.

A lawyer will consider your case and do what they can to get you a reasonable plea bargain or the lightest sentence possible. Depending on the specifics of your case, this could include not having to spend any time in jail.

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