Texas isn’t a lenient state regarding penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you’re convicted, your punishment is clear-cut, and while there’s some variation allowed so that the court can give you a customized sentence, you will face mandatory minimums and legally required DWI consequences. But it’s not just the official penalties that you need to worry about. If you have a DWI on your record, you face several possible problems outside of what the legal system puts you through. That DWI has lasting effects that hit you both in the wallet and in your sense of personal stability.

The Official Penalties

Officially speaking, if you have a DWI conviction in Texas, your punishment depends on whether the conviction is your first or a subsequent occurrence. On your first conviction for a straight DWI with no other additional charges, you face at least three days in jail and could be put away for up to 180 days, or about six months. You will lose your driver’s license temporarily (at least three months, and up to one year), and you’ll have to pay two fines, one a state fine set at $3,000, and another fine that can be as much as $2,000.

For a second conviction, the state fine goes up to $4,500, and the other fine can be as much as $4,000; mandatory jail time increases to a month with the potential to be as long as a year. As for losing your license, you could be without driving privileges for as long as two years.

The third conviction has even worse punishments, as you can guess. The state fine goes up to $6,000, and the other fine is set at $10,000. Minimum prison time – not jail, but prison now – is two years with the potential to be away for up to 10 years. The loss-of-license penalty actually remains the same as it was for the second conviction, almost two years.

You may face annual fees of $2,000 per year for three years once you get your license back, too. So, these financial hits will just keep on coming. If you have a child in the car with you when the police get you, you’ll face additional penalties including another fine of $10,000, more time without your driver’s license, more time in jail, and an additional child endangerment charge.

Practical Problems

The official penalties are bad enough, but they lead to secondary problems. If you’re in jail, you’re not working, and that affects how much money you have to live on once you get out. You could even lose your job completely, which means your family will face financial restraints. 

Certain professions will not hire people with DWI convictions, so you’ve just closed off entire swaths of the job market, and you could lose any professional licenses that you have. If you’re living here on a visa or have a green card, you could lose your status and be deported. 

Insurance premiums for both life and car policies will likely skyrocket. And if you manage to stay out of jail (except for the minimum time) but lose your license, your mobility will be curtailed. You won’t be able to drive to jobs that are far away and not on public transportation lines, and you won’t be able to pick up work from any driving-related gigs.

Family and Personal DWI Consequences

The consequences of a DWI conviction extend to your family and personal life, too. If you’re in the middle of a child custody case, that conviction will not help you at all and could influence the judge’s decision. You might be prohibited from adopting or fostering children, and family and friends may be wary of getting into your car as passengers once you get your license back. 

You could be barred from joining any military branches, and oddly enough, you could even be stopped from crossing international borders. Countries do look at people who have been convicted of DWIs and can stop them from entering, even if the trip is as innocuous as walking across the border into Mexico to do some shopping or get some tacos. And, should you decide to better yourself and try to return to school, that conviction will likely knock you out of the running for a lot of financial aid.


One DWI conviction can lead to a world of financial and personal pain. If you’re facing DWI charges, work with an experienced DWI attorney to minimize the chances of encountering these DWI consequences and to minimize the impact of the consequences you do face. The team at Stephen T. Bowling is 5-star rated and has defended and resolved thousands of cases for their clients. Get a free case consultation.

You want to be able to continue living your life as much as possible, and the best way to get a fighting chance is to have legal help from an attorney who knows the system inside and out.

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816 Congress Ave, Suite 950
Austin, Texas 78701

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San Antonio, Texas 78205