Texas DWI Laws
It’s essential to familiarize yourself with Texas DWI laws (Driving While Intoxicated) if you drive in the state; it’s especially important to know Texas DWI laws if you face a DWI charge. DWI, also known as drunk driving, is a severe offense. Drunk driving can result in car accidents, property damage, bodily injury, and even death. You should take steps to avoid driving while intoxicated.
If you plan on having a few drinks, arrange a ride ahead of time, have a designated driver, or plan to stay where you are. You may even want a trusted friend or family member to hold on to your keys until you are sober. However, if you are currently facing a DWI charge, don’t lose hope; an experienced DWI attorney can educate you on Texas DWI laws and help you navigate the legal system.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much?
When a law enforcement officer suspects that a driver may be intoxicated, the officer will likely attempt to conduct a field sobriety test. The officer may want to check a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level to confirm alcohol use. Exactly how much alcohol is too much depends on various factors, including the individual’s gender, age, and weight. Texas DWI law states BAC limits are 0.08% for adults age 21 or older. Commercial drivers are subject to a reduced BAC limit of 0.04%. For a person under the legal drinking age of 21, any alcohol is too much alcohol.
Although the DWI law specifies the legal BAC limits, it’s essential to know that a person is legally intoxicated if they show signs of impairment, regardless of the BAC level. It is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. If a law enforcement officer stops you and you refuse a breathalyzer or blood test, then your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days. A repeat incidence of refusal will result in a two-year suspension.
A 1st offense DWI is punishable by a $2,000 fine and three-180 days behind bars. A first offense DWI will also result in up to one-year suspension of your driver’s license.
A 2nd DWI means you are now considered a repeat offender. A 2nd DWI is punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and one month to one year behind bars. In addition to up to a driver’s license suspension for up to two years, you may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle prior to getting your driving privileges reinstated. And IID is a special breathalyzer installed on a vehicle ignition switch; if alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start.
A 3rd DWI offense is punished by steep fines, up to $10,000. A 3rd DWI charge results in two-10 years in prison. Driving privilege penalties are the same as with a 2nd DWI; loss of driver’s license for a period up to two years. You will also be required to have an IID installed in your vehicle before reinstatement.
Texas DWI Penalties
Each DWI case is unique, and several factors influence the outcome of each case. Texas DWI law states that all DWI convictions result in some form of loss of driver’s license and fine. Repeat DWI offenders are required to have an IID installed in their vehicles. Penalties will increase in severity with each consecutive DWI. However, the general DWI penalties are:
- Criminal record (misdemeanor or felony)
- Fines, fees, and surcharges
- Random drug and alcohol testing
- Community service
- Loss of driver’s license
- Mandatory drug and alcohol education courses
- Increased insurance premiums
Regardless of which number of DWI offense it is for you, if the DWI incident involved passengers under age 15, it will incur additional charges and penalties. These penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to two years behind bars, and 180 days suspension of driver’s license. There will also be additional charges, fines, and penalties if the DWI incident resulted in property damage, bodily harm, or death.
If you are dealing with a DWI, you need to contact an experienced Texas DWI law attorney right away. You may feel hopeless; however, an experienced DWI attorney may be able to help you get your sentence reduced or even have the DWI charges dismissed. A DWI defense attorney can examine the DWI case’s details, view any tests or reports, and determine the traffic stop’s quality. A DWI defense attorney will help identify if the police officers acted appropriately, and any factors that may have skewed results. A Texas DWI law defense attorney will try to determine the integrity of the field sobriety tests and the accuracy of any test administered.
A DWI attorney can help you navigate the complex legal process and can help you as you battle against the DWI charge. To achieve the best outcome possible for your DWI case, you must act quickly and have an experienced DWI attorney on your side.
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