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A DWI is a serious charge that carries a harsh life impact, and facing the criminal justice system can be intimidating. Accepting DWI charges can result in heavy fines, years of increased insurance rates, many hours of drunk driving school, and community service.


You only have 15 days to save your driver's license!!


Courts across West Texas taking a criminal DWI (“Driving While Intoxicated”) or DUI (“Driving Under the Influence”) very seriously.  There can be major consequences, like losing your driver’s license, possibly losing your job, losing your freedom, and family strife. 


In Texas, a DWI is determined by your Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”):

  • 21 years old or older: 0.08%

  • Commercial drivers: 0.04%

  • Under 21 years old: Any detectable amount.


Law enforcement are on the lookout for drunk or impaired drivers.  Some things they watch for that may lead to being stopped and arrested are:

  • Making a turn too widely or narrowly;

  • Using two lanes, straddling or driving on the center line;

  • Almost hitting someone or something;

  • Weaving or drifting from one side of the road to another;

  • Driving too slowly and being overly cautious;

  • Driving too close to vehicle in front of you;

  • Erratic braking; or

  • Swerving.


If you are arrested for DWI in Texas, you could receive a license suspension of 90 days up to two years.  If you are a commercial driver, failing or refusing to take a breath test can result in an automatic one year disqualification of your Commercial Driver’s License.  The arresting officer may take your Texas driver license and issue you a temporary driving permit and a Notice of Suspension.  If you do not request a hearing to contest your driver’s license suspension within 15 days, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended 40 days after your arrest.  Losing your driver’s license can impact your work, family, and overall quality of life.


Refusing or Failing “The Test”

If you drive in Texas, you have consented to take a sobriety test.  Driving is a privilege.  When you asked the State to give you a driver’s license, you agreed to perform a sobriety test when an officer suspects you may be under the influence.  Because of this rule, you can lose your license if you refuse the test.  This suspension is completely separate from the criminal part of a DWI case, and can result in a license suspension of 90 days up to two years.

Here's how chemical test refusals or failures usually play out:

  • You refuse or fail a chemical test.

  • The officer takes your driver's license and issues you a temporary driving permit.

  • You have 15 days to request a hearing, after which any hearing request will be denied.

  • If you don't request a hearing, your license suspension kicks in 40 days after the arrest.

  • You'll eventually pay a $125 fee to get your license back.


Length of Suspension for Test Refusals


  • 1st offense: 180 days.

  • 2nd offense (Refuse or fail test): 2 years.

Minors (Under 21 years old)

  • 1st offense: 180 days.

  • 2nd offense (Refuse or fail test): 2 years.

Length of Suspension for Test Failures


  • 1st offense: 90 days.

  • 2nd offense (Refuse or fail test): 1 year.

Minors (Under 21 years old)

  • 1st offense: 60 days.

  • 2nd offense (Refuse or fail test): 120 days.

DWI/DUI Penalties

If you enter a guilty plea or no contest for your DWI, the fees and expenses incurred for your charge of driving while intoxicated could reach over $10,000.  This doesn’t include the time, money, and energy of securing alternative transportation to get to work, to drop your kids at school, to run errands, and to go out.  You should also expect to be assessed court fines, court costs, probation/community supervision costs, fees associated with installing and using the ignition interlock device, and attorneys’ fees.


You will also face a variety of fees and surcharges related to license reinstatement and maintenance, and some of these depend on your age and circumstances.  For example, everyone must pay a $125 fee for license reinstatement after an Administrative License Revocation ("ALR"), which happens whenever you fail or refuse to submit to a chemical test.  Once you get your license back, you will have to pay an annual fee of $1,000 to $2,000 every year for 3 years.



For DWI purposes, if you 21 years or older, you are an adult.  Penalties build, so the more DWIs, the greater the penalty. 

1st Offense

  • Up to a $2,000 fine.

  • Jail time between 3 days and 180 days.

  • License suspension for up to 2 years.

  • Annual surcharge up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your license.

  • DWI intervention or education program.

  • Possible ignition interlock device.

2nd Offense

  • Up to a $4,000 fine.

  • Jail time between 1 month and 1 year.

  • License suspension up to 2 years.

  • Annual surcharge of up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your license.

  • DWI intervention or education program.

  • Possible ignition interlock device.

3rd Offense

  • Up to a $10,000 fine.

  • State prison time between 2 years and 10 years.

  • License suspension up to 2 years.

  • Annual surcharge of up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your license.

  • DWI intervention or education program.

  • Possible ignition interlock device.


If there was a child under 15 years old in your vehicle at the time, you face:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine.

  • Jail time up to 2 years.

  • License suspension for 180 days.


All DWI offenses are serious, but some are extremely grave.  If you hurt or kill someone while driving impaired, you can face charges for intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter.  Intoxication Assault is a 3rd Degree Felony.  Intoxication Manslaughter is a 2nd Degree Felony.


Commercial Drivers and DWI

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) states that any commercial driver operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher is considered to be driving under the influence.  If you're a CDL holder and you either refuse a chemical test or take one and have a BAC of 0.04% in your commercial vehicle or 0.08% or higher in any vehicle, your CDL is disqualified for 1 year.  If you drive a commercial vehicle placarded for hazardous materials, the penalty is 3 years.



Under Texas DWI laws, anyone younger than 21 years old is considered a minor.  Texas has a Zero Tolerance Law for minors and alcohol.  This means drivers younger than 21 years old can't operate motor vehicles with any amount of alcohol or drugs in their systems.


For a 1st offense, you face:

  • License suspension not to exceed 1 year.

  • Up to a $500 fine.

  • A 12 hour Alcohol Education Program.

  • Extra 180 days of license suspension if you don't finish the Education program.

  • 90 days of license suspension if you get community service, with an ignition interlock device installed in every car you drive.


Pretty much any involvement you have with alcohol can affect your driving privileges in Texas―including non-driving alcohol offenses.  Examples of non-driving alcohol offenses include:

  • Purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol.

  • Lying about your age in an attempt to obtain alcohol.

  • Using a fake ID.

  • Consuming alcohol.

  • Possessing alcohol.

  • Public intoxication.

Have you been charged with DWI or DUI?

The State has a highly experienced and qualified team of police officers, government lawyers, and scientists to try their best to convict you of DWI.  AmblerLaw will make sure all of the administrative procedures were followed in your arrest and that the evidence collected has been processed correctly.  Rachel Ambler will work with the District Attorney’s Office to review the validity of the case and to discuss other options that might be available.  These are tasks that you can’t accomplish if you represent yourself.

AmblerLaw is ready to fight for you.  Having AmblerLaw represent you on your DWI charge could be the difference between the loss of your license, jail time, and other harsh terms imposed by the judge—and small fines, probation, community service, or the possibility of having the charges dropped.



Rachel Ambler has been in Midland/Odessa since 2001.  She knows it.  She gets it.  She's been called a "pitbull on a chain," because she won't stop fighting for you.  When your facing a DWI, that's exactly what you want.  Call AmblerLaw today.