Someone is injured or killed every twenty minutes in Texas DUI-related motor vehicle accidents.
Every year, hundreds of people in Texas die because of intoxicated people deciding to get behind the wheel and driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The Lone Star state is the leading state in the nation when it comes to drunk drivers and DUIs.
Continue reading to get a further glimpse into Texas’ increasingly devastating drunk driving problem.
Drunk Driving in Texas
While drinking alcohol is perfectly legal for adults over the age of twenty-one, it severely impairs judgment and your ability to safely maneuver motor vehicles. It leads to potential accidents and involuntary vehicular manslaughter.
In the 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index, ninety-five percent of drivers have agreed that driving while impaired by alcohol is dangerous, yet eleven percent of drivers have admitted to getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.
The legal limit is a BAC of 0.08%. Anything above that is considered impairment when you get behind the wheel.
Every year in Texas, for the last decade, there have been more than 600 drunk drivers that have died in crashes that they caused.
Driving while intoxicated is an epidemic in Texas that is showing no end in sight.
Driving While Intoxicated
The majority of people that are drunken drivers in fatal car accidents are between the ages of 21 and 25. This age group makes up twenty-one percent of all drunk drivers in Texas at any given time. More than half of young adult crashes involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages before getting behind the wheel of the car.
Not only does Texas take the cake when it comes to drunk driving, but it is also the state that takes the lead when the driver is almost double the legal limit. Texas has more DWI cases where the driver has a BAC of 0.15% than any other state.
At a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, a person will be experiencing problems with hearing and vision, loss of muscle control, difficulty detecting danger, and slow reaction speed. All of these things are crucial to safely operating a moving vehicle.
So, what happens when that level of alcohol in their blood is almost doubled? At a BAC of 0.15%, all of these problems are intensified. Hearing, vision, muscle control are even less controlled, in addition to balance issues becoming apparent. Any potential control of the car is deteriorated. Paying attention to your surroundings and the function of the car becomes increasingly difficult.
Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle in this condition is the worst possible idea that anyone could have. When you get pulled over while driving under the influence, you get charged with a DWI.
First DWI Charge: What to expect?
You got behind the wheel after having too many drinks. Thankfully, you were pulled over as soon as you left the parking lot and didn’t kill anyone. Now you are facing your first DWI charge.
A first-time drunk driving offense can land you in a pile of debt. Your first DUI can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $24,000.
Driving while intoxicated in Texas has an immediate consequence. As soon as you are arrested for driving under the influence, your driver’s license confiscated.
Once convicted, you can expect the following:
- Your license is suspended for up to a year.
- You are fined up to $2,000.
- You could be placed on probation versus jail time of up to one year.
Once you get your license reinstated, you have to pay $1,000 for three years to keep your license.
Every repeat offense will accumulate more severe consequences.
Second Conviction: What to Expect?
So you didn’t learn your lesson the first time, and you got arrested for driving under the influence again. Hopefully, no one was hurt.
You can expect the following if you get a second DUI charge:
- License suspension of up to 24 months
- Fines adding up to a maximum of $4,000
- Jail time of up to one year
The amount of money to keep your license also bumps up to $1,500 for the first three years once you get your license back.
Third Conviction: What to Expect?
When you get your third DWI, you’re looking at more consequences:
- Another 2 years of license suspension
- $10,000 maximum in fines
- 24 months to 10 years in prison
The cost of keeping your license then ups to $2,000 a year for three years.
Third offenses are upgraded to felony charges.
In Texas, if you rack up more than two DUIs in five years, you have to install a device in your vehicle that will not allow you to start the engine if you have been drinking.
To Fourth DUI and Beyond
By the time you make it to your fourth DUI, it’s apparent that you are suffering a problem with substance about of some sort and you need help. At this point, you’ve got a felony on your record, and unfortunately, things are just going to get worse from there.
Learn more about fourth felony offenses and what to do next here: What Happens After Your 3rd DWI in Austin, Texas?
Child Endangerment & Drunk Driving
Not only is drunk driving reckless and dangerous, people still do it. To make it even worse, people still driving under the influence of alcohol with their children in the vehicle! These people are charged with DWI and child endangerment.
You can be charged with child endangerment and as a result, end up with:
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Up to 2 years in jail
- Up to 180 day’s suspension of your license
A DWI charge with a child in the car is automatically upgraded to a felony charge.
Texas DUIs & Auto Insurance Policies
Your partnership with your insurance company can take quite the hit as a result of a DUI charge. Your insurance rates can increase by up to 100 percent. While your insurance company cannot cancel your policy, they may decide to deny your request to renew at the beginning of your next term.
Texas’ Department of Public Safety requires that after the period of license suspension, you will need to provide a certificate of insurance (SR-22 form) to be able to reinstate your driver’s license. The SR-22 must be maintained for two years following the reinstatement of your license. This becomes a problem if your insurance policy is canceled by the insurance company at the end of your current term.
Underage Drinking in Texas
In 2018, 58 people who weren’t even old enough to legally drink died after drinking and then getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. When a minor is charged with driving while intoxicated, it is called a DUI, or driving under the influence.
A minor can be charged with a DUI even if they are below the legal limit which is a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.08%. This charge is not as severe as it would be if the driver was of legal age to drink.
Texas DUI Charges for Minors
Juveniles can face charges for drunk driving that include probation, license suspension, and time in a juvenile detention center.
A DUI charge for a drunk driver under the legal drinking age of 21 and below the legal drinking limit of 0.08% BAC can consist of:
- A fine of up to $500
- Community service of up to 40 hours
- suspension of license for 60 days
- Mandatory alcohol awareness classes
Consequences for drunk drivers between 17 and 21 years of age with a BAC above the legal limit are more severe:
- A max fine of $2,000
- 3-180 days in jail
- 90 days to a year license suspension
Every repeat offense causes an increase in punishment. This is a result of the zero-tolerance policy in Texas.
Make Better, Safer Choices
Be safe! Start today and make better choices. If you have had four DUIs, then maybe it is time to get help and take steps to get your life back. If you got a DUI and it was a one-time mistake, make sure that you never let yourself get to that point again.
Don’t take dangerous chances. Don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you have had too much to drink. One drink can be too much for certain people. If you aren’t sure, don’t chance it and stay where you are, call an Uber, or walk if possible.
The detrimental decision to drive drunk can ruin your life.
Take a minute to think about the effect that you might have on someone else’s life if you were to get drive while under the influence and hit someone, whether it be a pedestrian or another driver. You could end another person’s life as easily as you could end your own in one simple, selfish decision.
Next time you get a drink, order an Uber or assign a designated driver before you even think about getting behind the wheel. The alternative can lead to a Texas DUI. And even DUIs can be life-threatening.
Need a Texas DUI Attorney for an existing case? Call James Fletcher Law.