San Antonio Attorney for First-Time DWI and DUI Cases.

First-time DWI cases are the most common cases our firm handles. In fact, many first-time DWI clients have never been arrested before. The criminal-justice system is new to them. And it is also scary. More importantly, first-time DWI and DUI clients have many questions about their cases and need DWI help. This post will answer the most frequently asked questions we get from first-time DWI and DUI clients.

What is the definition of a first-time DWI in Texas?

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) means operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Moreover, Texas Law defines “Intoxicated” as follows:

  1. 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 the substances; or
  2. Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at the time of driving.

In other words, there are two ways prosecutors can prove a person is DWI. First, they can show the driver was physically or mentally impaired while driving. Examples of being physically or mentally impaired include: (1) drivers with slurred speech; (2) drivers who are unsteady on their feet; and (3) drivers who cannot maintain their driving lane.

Second, prosecutors can show the driver had an alcohol concentration of .08 or more when he or she was driving. To prove alcohol concentration, police use a breath-test machine called an Intoxilyzer 9000. This is the machine you blow into. Or they can get a warrant to draw and test your blood.

What is the definition of DUI in Texas?

Texas law defines DUI as “operat[ing] a motor vehicle in a public place, or a watercraft, while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.” Accordingly, Texas DUI makes it a crime for a minor to have any alcohol in his or her system while driving a car or operating a boat. In addition, a “minor” means a person under 21 years of age.

Also, Texas DUI is a “Zero Tolerance” law. The Texas Legislature passed it for two reasons. First, they wanted to help stop minors from driving under the influence. Second, they passed the DUI law to prevent the state from losing federal highway funding. Texas DUI became the law on September 1, 1997.

What are the differences between Texas DWI and Texas DUI offenses?

Texas DWI crimes and Texas DUI crimes differ in several important ways:

  • Texas DUI applies only to minors. Further, a minor means a person under 21 years of age.
  • First-time DUI offenses are Class C misdemeanors.
  • Texas DUI makes it a crime for a minor to have any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system. This means a minor can be guilty of DUI even if he or she is not “intoxicated.”
  • In contrast, DWI makes it a crime to drive while in a state of intoxication.
  • Unlike DUI, both minors and adults can be charged with DWI.
  • DWI penalties are harsher than DUI penalties.
  • In short, DWI and DUI are two different crimes in Texas. However, most people use the terms DWI and DUI interchangeably.

What are the penalties for Texas DWI offenses?

Texas DWI OffensesClassPenalty RangeFine Range

(First-Time DWI.)
Class B Misdemeanor3 days to 180 days in jail.

Up to a $2,000.00 fine.

* In 2019, Texas DWI fines increased in some cases. As a result, a DWI driver may have to pay an extra $3,000, $4,500, or $6,000 in fines.
DWI-1st with open container.Class B Misdemeanor6 days to 180 days in jail.Up to a $2,000.00 fine.
DWI-1st with a BAC of .15 or more.Class A MisdemeanorUp to one (1) year in jail.Up to a $4,000.00 fine.
DWI-2nd.Class A Misdemeanor30 days to one (1) year in jail.Up to a $4,000.00 fine.
DWI with a child passenger younger than 15 years of age.State Jail Felony180 days and up to two (2) years in state jail.Up to a $10,000.00 fine.

(Felony DWI.)
Third Degree FelonyTwo (2) years and up to ten (10) years in prison.Up to a $10,000.00 fine.

What should I look for when I hire a first-time DWI attorney in San Antonio?

In my experience, clients looking for DWI help consider two factors: value and price:

  1. A good DWI attorney (Value); and
  2. An affordable DWI attorney (Price).

So let’s talk about these two factors separately.

What is considered a “good DWI attorney?” A good DWI attorney is a lawyer who gives you honest and objective advice. He or she will evaluate your case and give you realistic options. More importantly, a good DWI attorney is an experienced DWI-trial lawyer. This means that if push comes to shove, he or she will take your case to trial.

Next, let’s consider what an affordable DWI attorney means. Most of my clients are price sensitive. They work steady jobs, but are also on a budget. That means the price of an attorney is often the biggest factor in hiring a DWI attorney.

For this reason, clients should price shop. There are many DWI lawyers in San Antonio. You should speak to several DWI attorneys before you make a decision. This will give you a good idea of the market for DWI attorney fees.

From there, you should exclude the extreme fees at both the high and low ends. Also, if the low fee seems too good to be true, then it probably is. And always trust your instincts. If the lawyer seems shady, then walk away.

Finally, you are ready to hire a DWI Attorney. Go with the attorney you feel most comfortable with and fits within your budget.

San Antonio DWI and DUI Criminal Defense Firm.

We offer free consults for all DWI cases. My office number is 210-733-7575. In addition, we offer affordable rates. And we also provide complimentary services such as help with ALR hearings and getting occupational licenses. You can also contact us online. Send us a message with the facts of your case and we will give you a free price quote.

Finally, clients looking for DWI help have options. And they should consider two things–price and value. Or as Warren Buffet once stated: “price is what you pay, value is what you get.” We look forward to earning your business by competing on both price and value.

DWI Attorney Genaro R. Cortez.

Questions about your DWI or DUI charge. Call 210-733-7575.