Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in any state across America which holds a number of legal consequences.
Even if you have had just one drink, your blood alcohol could measure over the legal limit.
Fortunately, the law is generally on your side as a first-time offender and many lawyers may be able to help in having a case against you dismissed.
However, this is not to say this is a guarantee. Drinking and driving is still a crime and under no circumstances is this behavior encouraged.
If you are looking to learn more about receiving a DWI in Texas and what the law states, read it all in this blog.
What Constitutes a DWI in Texas?
As mentioned, driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is 100% legal across all states in the U.S.
However, each state has own set of laws defining the offense and the associated legal penalties and implications.
In Texas, the law is known as a DWI or ”Driving while Intoxicated” as opposed to DUI, known as ”Driving under the Influence” in other U.S. states.
Texas DWI laws are found in the Texas Penal Code, under title 10, chapter 49. Here the law defines driving while intoxicated as:
- Have an impaired mental or physical state, not being able to use these faculties due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol.
- Having a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08% or more.
However, certain variations of drivers carry different BAC legal limits.
Drivers under the age of 21 years old should have zero alcohol count in their blood. While the legal limit for commercial drivers is .04 BAC.
Gathering DWI Evidence
If you are stopped by an officer of the law for a suspected DWI, there are a number of ways you can be assessed.
You are generally asked to undergo basic driver performance tests, to take a Breathalyzer test or have your blood or urine tested.
However, in the state of Texas, your BAC levels do not need to be over the legal limit for an officer to legally accuse you of a DWI.
An officer can make a DWI arrest based on the following observations:
- Your appearance – whether you look intoxicated
- Driver behavior – erratic, irresponsible driving
- The presence or odor of alcohol in your vehicle
- Your performance in a field sobriety test
These scenarios are based on probable cause and permit an officer to make an arrest under Texas DWI laws.
Texas DWI Penalties for Minors
United States law defines anyone under the age of 21 years old as a minor.
As previously stated, minors should not have any detectable amount of alcohol in their blood when tested for a DWI.
First offense minors do face legal action, although it’s generally far less severe than adult legal penalties.
Texas DWI penalties for minors include fines, probation periods, a loss of the right to drive and mandatory enrolment in alcohol education classes. They may also need to serve community service and install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
Minors are not exempt from jail time – with each DWI offense, penalties increase, and can result in time behind bars. However, any lawyer worth their salt in Texas will endeavor to prevent jail time and have legal penalties minimized for minors.
Texas DWI Penalties for Adults
Naturally, the penalties faced by adults for a DWI in Texas are far more stringent. Texas DWI law is especially strict when it comes to repeat DWI offenders and the blood alcohol content reading.
Here’s what to expect for first, second, and third DWI offenses:
First DWI Offense
For your first DWI charge as an adult in the state of Texas, you are usually fined up to $2,000 and could spend anywhere from 3-180 days in jail. To add to this, your driver’s license could be suspended for as long as two years, while an annual surcharge of $2,000 may apply for a period of three years.
You may also need to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, which requires you to do a Breathalyzer test before starting the car.
However, these penalties are dependent on your BAC reading at the time of arrest and existing criminal record.
Second DWI Offense
Your second DWI offense carries with it some hefty penalties including a fine of up to $4,000 and jail time of one month to a year behind bars.
Your license could also be suspended for a period of two years, while a $2,000 annual surcharge would also apply for up to three years. The same goes for the installation of an in-vehicle Breathalyzer test, while you may also need to attend a DWI intervention program.
Third DWI Offense
A third DWI offense carries some of the harshest penalties, including a hefty $10,000 fine and anywhere from 2 – 10 years in a state prison.
Naturally, your license would also be suspended for a period of two years, while the same annual surcharge of $2,000 would also apply.
If you face jail time, you may have to do this in conjunction with a DWI intervention program. Once your sentencing is served, you may need to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle to keep you in check.
Other DWI Crimes and Injury
If you are responsible for the following crimes while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could face far more serious consequences:
- Driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle (under 15 years old)
- Assault caused by intoxication while driving
- Manslaughter caused by intoxication while driving
- Injuring a firefighter, peace officer, or emergency personnel
- Causing permanent or traumatic brain injury
All of the above offenses are prosecuted under different sections of the Texas DWI law, carrying far more severe legal implications.
Looking for a DWI Lawyer in Texas?
Have you or a loved one been caught with a DWI in Texas? James Fletcher DWI Law Office is here to provide the legal representation you need.
James Fletcher is well-versed in the intricacies of Texas DWI law, offering his expertise at an affordable rate.
Looking for a confident lawyer who can stand his ground from arrest to verdict? James Fletcher DWI Law Office is your answer.