Texas lawmakers realize the danger that comes with driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This crime poses a serious threat to public safety and many times results in the loss of property and life.
To protect the public, Texas relies on a serious of DUI laws that prohibit this offense and punishes those who are found guilty of it. Texas drivers can take advantage of knowing what the blood content levels are in the state and also what kinds of punishments they could face in court if they are arrested for and found guilty of DUI in Texas.
DUI in Texas
Texas uses the acronym of DWI to define the act of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This acronym stands for Driving While Intoxicated. It is legally defined as driving with a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.
The state’s laws use drunk driving and drugged driving interchangeably. Another legal definition for DWI in Texas is driving while intoxicated by drugs like marijuana, cocaine, inhalants and other intoxicating substances.
Further, the DWI laws in Texas apply to drivers of all ages and all types of motor vehicle operation. Drivers who are under 21 cannot drive with BACs of 0.02 percent or higher. Commercial drivers are committing a crime if they drive with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher.
The term “motor vehicle” applies not only to privately-owned passenger cars, trucks, vans, and other common vehicles. It also extends to vehicles like motorcycles, motorboats, RVs and even mopeds.
It is also possible to be charged with an aggravated DWI in Texas. An aggravated DWI involves:
- Driving with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher
- Being convicted of two prior DWIs and now facing a third conviction
- Driving with an illegal BAC with a child in the vehicle
- Causing an accident that results in serious bodily harm or death
Aggravated DWIs in Texas are met with harsher penalties than standard DWI convictions.
Finally, it is possible to get a DWI in Texas without actually driving a vehicle. If the motorist is found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle, such as sitting in the driver’s seat or having the key in the ignition, while having an illegal BAC, he or she can be charged with DWI. The car does not actually have to be in motion for a person to commit this offense.
DWI Penalties in Texas
The penalties for DWI reflect the number of prior DWI offenses on a person’s driving record as well as his or her BAC at the time of the arrest. A first-time DWI conviction leads to:
- 72 hours to six months in jail
- A fine of up to $2000
- 90 days to 12 months’ license suspension
- Use of an ignition interlock device or IID to secure a conditional license
A second DWI conviction in Texas merits penalties of:
- 30 days to 12 months in jail
- Up to $4000 in fines
- 180 days to two years’ license suspension
- One year of using an IID or five years if the person has a prior DWI conviction
A third DWI offense results in:
- Two to 10 years in jail
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- 180 days to two years’ license suspension
- One year of using an IID or five years with a prior DWI convictions
Drivers convicted of an aggravated DWI in Texas face even harsher penalties that include:
- Six months to 20 years in jail
- Fines of $10,000
- Indefinite loss of one’s licenses with possible reinstatement after paying all civil fines
- Use of an IID on all of an offender’s vehicles
The amount of time that a person convicted of an aggravated DWI serves in jail depends on the number of prior DWI offenses he or she has on his or her record.
Implied Consent Laws and DWI Plea Deals in Texas
By law, all motorists who drive in the state give implied consent for BAC testing if they are arrested for DWI. They cannot escape a DWI charge by refusing to take a chemical test.
If they refuse, drivers can face having their licenses revoked. A first-time refusal to take a chemical test results in the person’s license being revoked for 180 days. A second and third refusal leads to a revocation period of two years.
It is also possible for DWI offenders, especially those found guilty of first-time offenses, to bargain down their charges. They can ask the court to charge them with a wet reckless offense rather than a DWI. A wet reckless charge is a charge of reckless driving and carries with it lesser penalties.
Texas uses stringent DWI laws to encourage drivers to avoid getting behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs. These laws allow for a variety of punishments for people found guilty of this charge. Motorists can pay steep fines and also serve time in jail for driving with illegal BAC limits.