Felonies and Misdemeanors

Texas Drunk Driving Laws & Penalties

There are a lot of reasons not to drink and drive. Most people don’t realize that a vehicle is a machine, a massive and fast-moving machine that when abused and misused can kill. Although some have come to believe that driving is a sort of right of passage, it is in fact very dangerous. Some motorists have become so use to the concept of driving that they fail to realize the consequences of their actions should they drink then drive.

First The Car, Then Drunk Driving

Think about this for a moment, in 1885, the car was invented. Which is only 131 years where people have been behind the wheel of a moving machine. During the time, the car was developed it only went 10 miles an hour which was about the same speed as a horse. The advantage was that the automobile could maintain the same speed for long distances whereas a horse could not. The people during that time believed that going faster than a horse was impossible. Nowadays the car travels at much greater distances and speeds. Most states have the maximum speed limit set at 70 miles per hour but thankfully Texas drivers are allowed to drive faster. Now, add a few drinks to the mix and it can and sometimes does cause terrible accidents.

Texas and her Zero Tolerance DWI Stance

So how does the great state of Texas deal with those who decide to have a few too many? For the most part, Texas has a “Zero Tolerance Policy” with severe penalties to boot. Texas also does not have a no “look back” period which means that if your first DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) was 25 years ago, it still counts as a prior offense and the penalties become harsh.

First Offense Texas DWI Penalties

If this is your first offense the jail time is 3 to 180 days depending on several factors. If there are no children under 15 in the vehicle and no serious injuries or fatalities the jail time is minimal. Driving under the influence does have a hefty fine that is up to $2,000 unless a child is in the vehicle at the time when the officer has pulled you over. Your license is suspended anywhere from 90 days to 1 year.

Second Offense Texas DWI Penalties

As with any offense the more the law is broken, the higher the penalties. For the second offense jail time is 30 days to 1 year, the fines are up to $4,000 depending on if a person under 15 is in the vehicle. Plus the driving license is suspended for 180 days up to 2 years. Should you need a restricted license for traveling for work, school or mandatory classes determined by the court an interlock ignition device is required to be installed in the vehicle.

BAC Levels & The Breath Test

An interlock ignition device is a personal breathalyzer test mounted in the vehicle. One must blow into the breathalyzer to start the car. If the person is above the programmed limit for the blood alcohol content, the car won’t start. For the state of Texas, anyone under the age of 21 the BAC is 0.02. Anyone over 21 the BAC is 0.08 and those who drive commercially the limit is 0.04.

Third Offense Texas DWI Penalties

The third penalty for driving drunk is jail time for two years a fine up to $10,000 and a suspended license from 180 days to 2 years. The interlock ignition device must be installed once the suspension has been lifted for a predetermined time as the court sees fit.

Texans Can Refuse The DWI Sobriety Testing

In the state of Texas, a person may refuse to be tested. The officer cannot force anyone to take the test. There are exceptions to every rule, though, like having multiple offenses or if someone is severely injured or killed. However should you chose to refuse testing it is grounds for automatic license suspension. The law in the Lone Star State requires a blood or breath test determined by the officer at the time of arrest. Should you resist the testing, the officer immediately takes your license and issues a temporary license that is good for 41 days along with the many warnings of making such a decision.

Texas Drivers License Suspension

The most crucial time should this happen, is within the first 15 days where the defendant may request a hearing to challenge the officers arrest and the suspension of the license. If you apply for a hearing, and you cannot prove the officer did not have the right to make the arrest your license will be suspended for 180 days if this is your first offense.

In Trouble? Talk with a Houston DWI Attorney

Should you find yourself facing prosecution after a DWI arrest in Houston, it’s best to find an attorney like Tad Nelson that fights DWI related criminal charges in Houston, and that specializes in such matters. With the ever changing laws surrounding drinking and driving, a Houston DWI attorney will have to navigate the ins and outs of the laws and can do a better job at doing so. The best solution though is the simplest one- don’t drink and drive. It’s just not worth it. The hangover is bad enough without having to deal with the courts as well.