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What Are the Chances of Dismissal of DWI in Texas?

Ben Michael

DWI convictions come with severe punishments, but the good news is that a DWI charge does not always result in a conviction.  

In fact, we have compiled statistics that show the Chances of a DWI Dismissal from Texas State Government. The chances of a DWI dismissal in Texas range from 52% to 9.4%, depending on the charge type.

Here is the full breakdown of DWI dismissals in 2024:

DWI Type% of Cases Dismissed
1st DWI52%
2nd DWI65%
Felony DWI9.4%
2024 DWI Dismissal Chances – Source: https://courtsdata.traviscountytx.gov/CriminalAnalytics/

However, it’s worth noting a few things:

  • A dismissal does not mean no punishment – sometimes there are conditions associates with a dismissal. Or the DWI will be ‘dismissed’, but replaced with a lesser charge.
  • There are also options for deferred adjudication, especially on first offenses. On 1st DWI charges, approximately 11% of charges result in deferred adjudication, on top of the 52% dismissal rate.
  • This data only includes the top 5 counties in Texas – often smaller counties are less likely to dismiss DWIs.
  • Most importantly, a great defense attorney increases your chances of dismissal substantially, and the chances vary based on the case circumstances. If you want to get our take on the chances of your DWI being dismissed, schedule a free case review and we would be more than happy to provide more insight.

By far, the best way to improve your odds of a DWI dismissal is to get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer with a track record of success in similar cases to yours. In this guide, we’ll give you a comprehensive breakdown of DWIs in Texas and provide examples of common strategies skilled lawyers use to earn dismissals.

DWI and DUI in Texas: Are There Any Differences?

DWI and DUI in Texas are two separate offenses and come with a different set of legal consequences.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

In Texas, it is illegal for minors (anyone under the age of 21) to drink then drive. In other words, you don’t have to be drunk to break the law. Texas has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to minors drinking and driving, which means that if a minor drives with any amount of detectable alcohol in their system, they’re committing an offense.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

As an adult, it’s not illegal to have a small amount to drink and then drive—as long as you’re not drunk. However, it is illegal to operate a vehicle in a public place while you are “intoxicated.” If a minor (aged 17 or over) commits this offense, they can be charged with DWI as an adult.

The differences between DUIs and DWIs:

  • DUIs are reserved for minors in Texas, while DWI can be applied to any adult or minor aged 17 or over.
  • A minor can be charged with DUI if they have any amount of alcohol in their system, regardless of whether they are drunk.
  • DWI applies to someone who’s driving while intoxicated. Intoxicated is defined as either having a BAC of 0.08% or having your driving ability impaired due to alcohol, drugs, or other substances.

BAC Limits and Regulations in the State of Texas

The Blood Alcohol Content limit in Texas is 0.08%. According to Texas law, if you have a BAC of 0.08%, you are considered legally intoxicated. Furthermore, a BAC of 0.15% or more will result in elevated charges.

That said, the Texas Penal Code has two definitions for “intoxicated.” While a BAC of 0.08% would indicate intoxication, officers could also arrest and charge you if they believe your driving ability is impaired.

Here’s how the Texas Penal Code defines “intoxicated”:

(A)  not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or

(B)  having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

DWI convictions carry heavy legal penalties, including fines, jail time, and a driver’s license suspension. But the consequences of a conviction go far beyond the legal implications. A permanent criminal record can impact your career and future income, prevent you from securing accommodation, and stop you from gaining professional licenses. On a personal level, it can leave you feeling embarrassed and isolated from your friends, family, and community.

Consequences of a DWI include:

  • Legal fines (between $2,000 and $10,000)
  • State fines ($3,000, $4,500, $6,000)
  • Driver’s License Suspension
  • Jail time
  • Community service

Furthermore, the collateral consequences of a DWI conviction on your record can include:

  • Loss of employment
  • Difficulty getting employed
  • Barrier to some professional certification and licensing
  • Barrier to getting loans
  • Difficulty in securing accommodation

As DWIs are so common, it’s easy for people to falsely believe that they do not have severe or long-lasting consequences, but the truth is that Driving While Intoxicated is a serious crime. A conviction will remain on your record permanently, and if you have to fill out a form that asks whether you have criminal convictions, you’ll have to answer “yes.”

DWI convictions come with a social stigma as well as legal penalties, and charges should never be taken lightly.

What Are the Odds of Serving Jail Time for a DWI in Texas?

Jail time is a real possibility in DWI convictions in Texas. The length of the sentence will depend on the severity of the crime and whether you have previous DWI offenses on your record.

Typically, you can expect the following jail sentences for DWI:

  • 1st DWI offense: Up to 180 days in jail
  • 2nd DWI offense: Up to 1 year in jail
  • 3rd or subsequent DWI offense: Between 2 to 10 years in prison

The Texas Penal Code: Identifying the Misdemeanor Class for DWI

The classification of a DWI offense depends on the severity of the crime and the presence of aggravating factors. A first-time DWI offense with no aggravating factors is typically a Class B misdemeanor.

If this is your second offense, or if you registered a BAC of 0.15 or higher, you would face a Class A misdemeanor—the highest level of misdemeanor and only one level away from a felony.

Understanding the Conditions that Turn DWI into a Felony: Aggravating Factors

Several aggravating factors can elevate a DWI into a felony. The following offenses can lead to felony convictions:

  • Third and Subsequent DWI: A third DWI offense will be classified as a third-degree felony.
  • Child Endangerment: If you are stopped on suspicion of DWI, and there is a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle, you can be charged with child endangerment. This is a state-jail felony.
  • Intoxication Assault: If someone suffers serious bodily injury as a result of you committing a DWI offense, you can be charged with Intoxication Assault, which is a third-degree felony.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter: In the somber event that a third party dies as a result of you committing a DWI offense, you can be charged with Intoxication Manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony.

The Duration of a DWI Record in Texas

A DWI conviction will remain on your record permanently. Not only will it show whenever someone runs a background check on you, but it can also be used against you to elevate any future DWI charges, even if there are decades between them.

The only way to conceal a DWI conviction is through applying for an order of non-disclosure. This won’t hide your conviction from government organizations and the police, but it will stop it from showing on background checks done by companies and banks.

However, not all DWI cases are eligible for non-disclosure. To be eligible, the following criteria must be met:

  • You have no previous convictions on your record
  • Your BAC at the time of the offense registered below 0.15%
  • Your offense did not result in an offense involving a third party
  • You have completed your sentencing, paid restitution, and all outstanding fines and court costs.
  • The applicable waiting period has lapsed. This can be 2, 3, or 5 years from the end of your sentencing, depending on the details of your sentencing.

What Should You Do When Faced with a DWI in Texas?

When faced with DWI charges, prosecutors will probably encourage you to plead guilty. You may be misled into believing a guilty plea will save you from going to jail, or it’s quicker and easier to pay the fine and put the whole incident behind you.

Pleading guilty will drastically reduce your chances of a dismissal. Instead, the first thing you should do is contact a DWI attorney you can trust. Call Michael & Associates to book a free case review if you are facing DWI charges today.

The Reasons to Avoid a Hasty Guilty Plea

By pleading guilty, you will automatically be convicted of the crime you are charged with. You will lose your right to a jury trial, and your sentencing will be in the hands of the judge. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to plead not guilty during your arraignment. This will allow you to talk your case over with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you decide your best options.

Why You Should Consider Challenging a DWI Charge in Texas

DWI arrests don’t always lead to DWI convictions. If you are facing DWI charges, you should fight back with a strategic defense.

In DWI cases, the burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond doubt that you are guilty of the crime. To do this, they must be able to demonstrate the following elements:

  • You were operating a vehicle
  • While you were “intoxicated”
  • In a public place

Sometimes, the validity and accuracy of the evidence gathered against you can be contested. For example, the accuracy of a Breathalyzer test depends on several factors, including the correct calibration of the device and the correct administration of the test by a trained officer.

Even then, a high BAC reading could be the result of taking some types of medication, including inhalers.

Several factors can result in an outright dismissal of your case despite any evidence gathered against you. However, even if your case can’t be dismissed, an experienced lawyer may be able to help get the charges against you reduced to earn you a more lenient sentence.

Factors That Could Result in the Dismissal of DWI Charges

Law enforcement officers in Texas must follow rules and regulations when stopping a vehicle, collecting evidence, and making an arrest. Any evidence gathered will be considered illegally obtained if they fail to follow the law when making an arrest.

Evidence obtained illegally cannot be used in court—this can lead to case dismissal.

  • Reasonable Suspicion: Officers must establish reasonable suspicion before making a traffic stop. This can include witnessing the vehicle swerving, erratic driving, or driving through red lights.
  • Probable Cause: Officers must establish probable cause before arresting you. This can include a high BAC reading or physical signs of impairment.
  • Constitutional Rights: A violation of your constitutional rights, such as a failure to give you the Miranda warning, reminding you that you have the right to legal counsel and the right to remain silent in custody, can be a factor in getting your DWI dismissed.

The Types of Evidence Your Attorney Can Explore and Contest in Court

In a DWI case, your lawyer will explore every aspect of the evidence collected for use against you by the prosecution to build a strong defense. All evidence can be contested, whether witness testimonies or BAC test results.

  • SFST results: Field sobriety tests are often used as evidence of intoxication, but they are highly subjective and flawed due to the fact they can produce false positives when external factors are present.
  • Breathalyzer results: These devices should be regularly maintained and calibrated in order to give accurate results. Moreover, the test should be administered by a trained officer. Improper use, as well as some types of medication, can result in false positives.
  • Police notes: Your lawyer will comb through the police reports to look for inconsistencies and flaws in the officer’s arrest procedure.
  • Dashcam footage and audio recordings: If your encounter and arrest were recorded, this could be reviewed by your lawyer, who will look for flaws in the law enforcement officer’s handling of your stop, search, and arrest. 

How Can You Seek to Get a Texas DWI Charge Reduced?

A good DWI attorney will try to get your case dismissed, but this isn’t always possible. When a dismissal is out of the question, your lawyer may try to get the state to reduce the charges against you to a lesser offense. Examples of possible lesser offenses include:

  • Obstruction of passageway
  • Reckless driving (for reducing a DWI felony to a misdemeanor)
  • Public intoxication

The process of reducing your charges is known as plea bargaining, and it consists of you entering a guilty plea in return for lesser charges and a more lenient sentence. Whether a plea bargain is an option for you will depend on several factors, including whether you have any previous criminal convictions, whether your actions resulted in a crash, and your BAC level at the time of the offense.

The Best Strategies for Dismissal of DWI in Texas

DWI dismissals can and do happen, but they aren’t easy to obtain. Give yourself the best chance of gaining a dismissal by hiring an experienced DWI attorney. A criminal defense lawyer with years of experience handling DWI cases will know the intricate details of the law. They can examine the evidence against you and spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Furthermore, if officers made mistakes on the day of your arrest, your lawyer will be able to identify them.

Michael & Associates have extensive experience dealing with DWI cases, many of which have ended in dismissals. We know that teaming up with the right lawyer is the most significant factor in a successful defense. That’s why we offer a free, no-obligation case review. Book your free case review online now.

Ben Michael

Ben has vast experience in defending criminal cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has countless criminal charges dismissed and pled down. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.

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