Texas follows DWI standard in their drunk driving laws. That means if you’re driving while you’re intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or a mix of both, you are facing DWI charges which is a serious offence in Texas and can bring a lot o direct as well as indirect penalties.
Here are Texas DWI laws in a glimpse :
BAC : The BAC required for charging a driver with DWI is 0.08% or over. First offence is considered a class B misdemeanor. However, with BAC over 0.15% in first offence, you may be comminiting a class A misdemeanor. In case of a commercial vehicle driver, the BAC of 0.04% is enough to press DWI charges.
Co Passenger : If you are driving under influence with one or more passengers of age less than 15 years old, you are commiting a state jail felony and facing a jail time of 180 days to 2 years, a fine of upto $10,000 and license suspension.
Damage : one major factor considered while sentencing a convict is the damage caused in DWI. In case of any major injury to any person due to DWI, the offender will face ‘intoxication assault’ charges, a 3rd degree felony, which means serving jail time of 2 to 10 years or probation with at least 30 days in jail along with fine of upto $10,000 in case of conviction. If there’s any death involved, it upgrades to 2nd degree felony and the convicted can be sentenced jail time upto 20 years and a fine of not more than $10,000.
Open Container : Texas deems it illegal to have an open container of alcoholic beverage in your vehicle while driving, even if your BAC is lower than 0.08%. However, BAC at or above 0.08% along with open container law violation can lead to harsher punishments.
Your Age : Texas considers anyone under 21 as a minor and follows a zero tolerance policy towards minors’ involvement, any kind, with alcohol and drugs. This means that any amount of alcohol or drugs in the blood of minors whether driving or not, can lead to license suspension for 1 year with a fine of upto $500. The convict can also be sentenced to other penalties like alcohol education program, possible community service hours and ignition interlock.
License and right to drive is not a constitutional right in USA but an administrative one. Thus the administration reserves the right to suspend your license if it deems you unfit to drive. This responsibility is vested in the Department of Public Safety. A first time offence can get your license revoked for 90 days to 1 year while for a repeat offender, it can increase upto 2 years. In case the offender refuses or fails to provide chemical tests, they may be awarded Administrative License Revocation of up to 180 days, depending on the driver’s age.
DWI case is an expensive affair. A first time offender can find themselves paying up to $2000, in addition to court cost, depending on the BAC level. A second time offence may lead to fine of $4000 and in further repetitions, it can increase to $10,000. This fine also depends on the level of damage caused (as mentioned above). Other than these, you may also have to pay for annual surcharges to keep your license or a particular period of time.
In Texas, even a first time offender can be sentenced to imprisonment. If your BAC is over 0.14%, you may be sentenced to jail time of 90 to 180 days. Second offence can bring you jail sentence of upto 2 years while third time offender can be jailed for up to 10 years.
The court may offer probation instead of jail time and include community service hours in the probation period.
Alcohol Education/Intervention Program
The court can order any convicted to attend any of the alcohol education or intervention programs offered by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The convicted has to complete 12 to 32 hours of the program, depending on the program ordered by court, within 90 to 180 days of sentencing. A certificate from this course is necessary for reinstatement of license. The court may also replace the program with mandatory community service hours if it is satisfied that the convicted is not a substance or alcohol abuser and does not require the program.
Ignition interlock is offered to a convict for limited driving permit. They can drive the car for limited purposes and only after they blow into the ignition interlock to check their BAC level. This is offered only after the convict has paid all due fines and fees.
If you are charged with a DWI case in Texas, find a DWI specialist attorney instead of a general criminal lawyer since DWI attorneys are more well versed with DWI laws and can provide a better legal representation to help you get the best outcomes in your case. A good representation and legal guide can make a lot of difference in your case.