If you drink before you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you need to be very careful. Not only is drinking too much and then driving dangerous, but it can also get you in serious trouble with the law.
In the state of Texas, driving under the influence is known under the law as a DWI (driving while intoxicated). Texas, like most states in the USA, takes driving under the influence very seriously. The consequences of getting caught drunk driving in Texas can be quite severe.
Just what punishment might you face if you are hit with a DWI charge? And what can you do if you are facing one? Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.
DWIs in Texas
The laws in Texas are clear about what is considered a chargeable offense and what isn’t. You can be charged with a DWI in Texas if you are found with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.8% or more while behind the wheel of an automobile. If you are found to be lacking in ‘normal use of mental or physical faculties’ while driving, that is also a chargeable offense.
The amount a person will need to drink to go over this BAC threshold varies. Weight, height, gender, and even genetic makeup can have an impact on how much a person would need to drink.
You don’t even have to be on the road to be charged with a DWI. All the law requires is that one is found to be ‘operating’ a vehicle. That means if you’re in the parking lot, intoxicated, with the car engine turned on, you could be charged.
If you’re underage, it can be even easier to get hit with a charge. Texas is what is known as a zero-tolerance state. That means it is illegal for those under the age of 21 to get behind the wheel with ANY detectable alcohol in their system.
The consequences if caught can be very serious and might impact a young person’s future.
Consequences of Drunk Driving in Texas
There is a wide variety in how a DWI case can be tried in the state of Texas. The specific circumstances of each situation will impact how severe of a penalty is given.
First-time offenders may be able to find some leniency in their sentencing. However, repeat offenders might face very severe penalties.
First-time offenders, on average, face manageable penalties when charged. Most will not have to spend time behind bars, though in some cases a first-time offender could be behind bars for up to six months. This is rare.
Fines for a DWI can go as high as $2,000 for a first-time offender. The offending individual likely will have their license suspended, usually anywhere from ninety days to a full year depending on the severity of the case in question.
These are broad guidelines as far as punishments go. The specific circumstances of a case will have a large influence on how these penalties actually play out.
As we mentioned, repeat offenders will often feel much more severe penalties. Individuals caught driving under the influence for a second or third time might be put behind bars anywhere from 30 days to a few years.
Fines can range from up to $4,000 for second-time offenders to nearly $10,000 for third-time offenders. Repeat offenders can also have their licenses revoked for up to two years. This can be quite a lengthy suspension.
Those with a recent prior conviction will also have to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. This is a device that will prevent someone from starting their vehicle if intoxicated. Usually, a person will have to blow into a device that will check their BAC. The car will only start if the BAC is below the legal level.
Other Special Circumstances
There are some other scenarios where a person might face more extreme punishment in regard to their DWI charge.
For example, if a person is found driving while intoxicated with passenger under 15, the punishments can be worsened. In this instance, the offender can face 180 days in prison or a fine as high as $10,000. The state takes the safety of its minors very seriously.
Minors often won’t have to face as serious of penalties as adults who are caught with a DWI. First-time offenders can be fined up to $500 and will have to commit mandatory hours of community service.
Only upon a third offense will a minor be sent to jail. However, these charges can tarnish their records forever.
Plea Bargaining in DWI Cases
Facing harsh penalties for DWI cases can be difficult for many people. It’s hard to bear the burden of these penalties on one’s day to day life. It’s difficult to fight these kinds of charges, and unlikely that it will be possible to dismiss a case completely.
However, an experienced attorney might be able to work a judge towards a less severe punishment. If you’re facing DWI charges, hiring an experienced attorney as soon as you can be essential for your stability and future.
Charged for Drunk Driving In Texas
If you’ve been charged for drunk driving in Texas, there can be serious consequences in your future. The above information will walk you through what penalties might be dished out for a DWI charge.
Have you been charged with DWI or DUI in Austin, TX? Do you need help with your case? Give us a call anytime for a free consultation.