The penalties for drunk driving in Texas have become harsher over the years. This is because of the alarming rate of collisions, and deaths caused by drunk or drugged drivers in the state. According to the Houston Chronicle, in the last 16 years, there have been over 3,000 wrecks due to impaired driving which are the highest rate in the country.
Laws on Drunk Driving in Texas
Texas laws on drunk driving are found in the Texas Penal Code Title 10, Chapter 49 which defines intoxication in two ways. The first definition asserts that intoxication occurs when a person does not have normal use of mental and physical faculties due to consuming drugs or alcohol. The second definition simply states that a person is labeled as intoxicated when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher.
Drunk Driving Penalties in Texas
Here’s what can be expected when facing your first, or subsequent, DWI charge:
1st charge – You’ll receive a fine up to $2,000 and could spend 3 to 180 days in jail in addition to mandatory attendance of a DUI education program.
2nd charge – You’ll pay a fine of up to $4,000 and serve a jail sentence of one month up to a year, as well as a license suspension of up to two years. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock (a device that prevents your vehicle from starting without a breathalyzer test) as well as attend DUI education classes.
3rd charge – This time you are facing a fine of up to $10,000 as well as a suspended driver’s license for up to two years. You could also have up to 10 years in state prison, as well as mandatory ignition interlock and DUI education classes.
How to know if you are intoxicated
If you are suspected of being drunk while driving, Texas law enforcement officials will use a few different methods to determine if you are impaired. These can include blood tests, breathalyzer tests or urine tests to determine your blood alcohol content. While these tests will be conducted somewhere in the process, officers do not need to have physical evidence to charge you with a DWI in Texas. Texas officers can use probable cause to determine if you are intoxicated enough to cause harm and place you under arrest without conducting a test first. Officers are trained to assess your physical appearance, behavior as well as a presence of alcohol to determine if you’re intoxicated. They may also perform field sobriety tests during the stop as well.
DWI crimes involving other people
In addition to being charged with a DWI, if the offense involves other people, then you may be facing a much more severe penalty. For instance, if you are in the car with a child under 15 years old, the incident involves an assault or manslaughter, or you cause harm to a police officer or firefighter, then you could face other charges in addition to your DWI.
If you are looking for a Houston DWI attorney, marijuana attorney or a criminal defense lawyer, contact Christopher T. Gore for more info on how he can best represent your case.