Driving under the influence (DWI / DUI) in Texas

If you have been accused of DUI/DWI? It is imperative that you are well informed.

Driving while intoxicated (DUI or DWI) in Texas

Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol is a fairly common crime that many people commit even without knowing it. While it is possible to receive a DUI penalty for driving under the influence of drugs, driving while intoxicated is a term that is used especially in relation to alcohol consumption. 

There is a possibility of being arrested for driving while intoxicated even when you are detained; For example, if the police find you sitting at the wheel, with the key in the ignition, you could be arrested even if all you have done is stop at the side of the road.

Blood alcohol concentration

In general, a driver is considered to be alcoholized if, when performing a breathalyzer test and when blowing, the value amounts to more than 0.08; This is true for drivers over 21 years old. However, if you are under 21 years of age, you could receive a DUI penalty if the value is less than 0.08 when you breathe since you are not legally the age to consume alcohol and, therefore, the test should not detect alcohol.

Laws specific to each state

While the level of alcohol that exceeds 0.08 will result in a DUI sanction in any state of the union, it is important to note that most DUI laws are specific to each state, so the consequences will depend on the place where I live

For example, in 42 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, you could lose your driver’s license after only obtaining a DUI conviction. This is known as an “administrative license suspension,” and the extent of the suspension varies from state to state. However, in the remaining eight states and depending on the situation, you may be allowed to keep your license after a single violation.

Ignition lock systems

Something that varies widely between states is in relation to ignition interlock systems. These are systems that measure the concentration of blood alcohol before allowing the vehicle to start and that can be used in driver’s vehicles that have been convicted of driving while intoxicated. However, not all states are governed by the same regulations or procedures.

For example, if you live in Alaska, it is mandatory to use any of these systems after receiving any conviction, even if it was your first. If you live in Alabama, you should use one of these systems if you have already committed several infractions, but not necessarily the first time. If you live in Idaho or Iowa, the use of these systems is at your discretion, which means that a judge can order the use of one of these systems if you consider it prudent, but it is not mandatory.

What happens if I refuse to undergo a chemical breath or blood test when I am taken off the road for a DWI in Texas?

In accordance with the Texas implied consent law, once you receive your driver’s license, you automatically agree to undergo the chemical blood, breath or urine test to determine the alcohol content in the blood or the presence of drugs. 

If you refuse to undergo the test, your driver’s license will be immediately removed and a temporary driver’s license will be issued while your court hearing is taking place. During the hearing your rejection may be used as evidence against you and the court may resolve the suspension of your driver’s license.

How the states agree

Most discrepancies in the laws are limited to penalties and fines. All states agree that driving while intoxicated is illegal, so all drivers should know that they cannot drive after drinking alcohol of any kind. Undergoing the breathalyzer test and obtaining a blood alcohol concentration value of 0.08 or higher will always result in an arrest for drunk driving.

The impact of federal laws

It should be noted that federal laws sometimes have an effect, usually to influence what state lawmakers should do. For example, federal regulations state that states must have laws on open containers in vehicles. The federal mandate establishes the requirements that these laws must meet so that there are no funding implications. However, states are generally allowed to write and enforce their own laws, with minimal federal guidance.

Laws and defenses on drunk driving (DWI) in Texas

Being in command of the wheel after having consumed alcoholic beverages is an almost infallible method of being left in the hands of the criminal justice system of the state of Texas. Not driving while intoxicated is the only way to avoid a process in the criminal justice system due to charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI or DWI). Driving while intoxicated in Texas carries severe penalties that drivers must take into account before operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.

Charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas

The state of Texas has imposed limits on the concentration of blood alcohol allowed in drivers. These limits are the same as in most other states of the country. The limit for people who are old enough to consume alcohol legally is 0.08 percent. The limit for minors is 0.02 percent. Drivers of commercial vehicles have a limit of 0.04 percent.

Drivers in the state of Texas must understand that there is no elimination period for prior infractions. This means that no matter how much time has elapsed since the previous conviction for driving while intoxicated since such a conviction is still in effect. For this reason, it is essential that drivers avoid operating a vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages.

A first offense for driving while intoxicated (DWI): Misdemeanor

The first time a person is convicted of driving while intoxicated, he faces a minimum of 72 hours in prison. The court may sentence a person to prison for a maximum of 180 days for a first offense. It is possible to impose a fine of a maximum of USD $ 2000, but if a person under 15 was in the vehicle, the cost of the fine may be higher. A license suspension of 90 to 365 days will also be imposed.

A second offense for driving while intoxicated (DWI): Misdemeanor

Charges for a second conviction for drunk driving carry a minimum prison sentence of 30 days. It is possible to increase such penalty up to one year if the court so desires. A maximum of USD $ 4000 is imposed, but that amount increases if a child is in the vehicle. Likewise, a driver’s license suspension of 180 days to two years is imposed.

A third offense for driving while intoxicated (DWI): Third-degree felony

A person found guilty of a third charge for driving while intoxicated faces a minimum penalty of two years in prison. This can reach a maximum of 10 years. A maximum fine of USD $ 10,000 may be imposed. A minimum period of two years of driver’s license suspension will be required.

Imprudence conviction reduction agreements are prohibited in the state of Texas

In the state of Texas, people accused of driving while intoxicated are not allowed to plead guilty to having committed a reckless infraction. That is, Texas law prohibits the conclusion of penalty reduction agreements that allow a person to plead guilty to driving recklessly instead of a charge for drunk driving. Sometimes, it is possible to oppose charges for driving while intoxicated. To do this, it must be argued that the test was executed incorrectly or that the person in charge of executing it did not have the legal capacity to carry it out.

People who face charges of drunk driving in the state of Texas must work quickly to determine a defense strategy. Contacting a qualified lawyer experienced in drunk driving cases as quickly as possible can help defendants determine a mode of defense against these serious accusations.

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Penalties for a DWI in Texas?

Sanctions for DWI in Texas include:

FIRST INFRACTION for DWI:

(Class B misdemeanor) – punishable by a fine not exceeding $ 2,000.00,

Jail time: 72 hours to 180 days,

Driver’s license suspension: 90 days- 1 year,

The court may change the prison penalty and grant parole by avoiding the suspension of the license ONLY at the first infraction, and

Possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage increases the minimum term of confinement from 3 days to 6 days for a first offense.

SECOND BREACH by DWI:

 (Class A misdemeanor) – Punishable by a fine not exceeding $ 4,000.00,

Jail time: 30 days-1 years, and

Driver’s license suspension: 180 days-2 years

THIRD (or subsequent) DWI INFRACTION:

(Third-degree felony) – Penalizable with a fine not exceeding $ 10,000.00,

Jail time: from 2 to 10 years, and

Driver’s license suspension: 180 days- 2 years.

DWI with a child under 15 as a passenger

(Major offense that the State Jail deserves) – Punishable by a fine not exceeding $ 10,000.00

Jail time: 180 days to 2 years.

Assault Poisoning (DWI that causes serious injuries):

(Serious crime of the third degree) – Punishable by a fine not exceeding $ 10,000.00

Confinement in the State Penitentiary: 2-10 years, and

License suspension: 90 days-1 year

Involuntary homicide due to poisoning (DWI causing death in another person):

(Serious crime of the third degree) – Punishable by a fine not exceeding $ 10,000.00

Confinement in the State Penitentiary: 2-10 years, and

License suspension: 180 days-2 years.

Consequences after a DWI arrest in Texas

(1) Administrative License Revocation:

To preserve your right to drive in Texas, you must request a hearing within 15 days from the date you are notified of a Notice of Suspension (usually on the day of arrest). If you promptly requested the hearing to challenge said Notice, you may continue driving until the day of the hearing. If you lose at the hearing, you will not be able to drive after the hearing. If your license is suspended at the hearing, you can obtain an occupational driver’s license.

(2) 1st. Appearance:

If you have been arrested and released for a misdemeanor for DWI, you will be given a date to return to court (usually 30 days after your arrest). If you hire a lawyer, he can appear on your behalf, avoiding you having to attend. During this 30-day period, the case is sent to the County Attorney’s office for further investigation. Then the County Prosecutor will prepare information and submit it to the County Clerk, and your case will be placed in the court file.

(3) Pre-Trial Conference:

Your lawyer will discuss your case with the County Attorney to obtain the best possible solution. This conference will take place around 8-10 weeks after the date of your first appearance.

(4) Cancellation hearing:

For the purpose of this hearing, the Court may cancel all or part of the evidence against it if it considers that its constitutional rights have been violated.  Your lawyer will take steps to suppress them. This may occur at any time in a period of 6 weeks to 3 months after the pre-trial conference.

(5) Judgment:

You can either request a trial on the stand at the court hearing, where he attends the case or a jury trial where a peer trial hears your case. If it is a misdemeanor, the trial will be by a jury of six. If it is a serious crime, the trial will be by a jury of twelve. The sentence: The Court gives a sentence after a conviction resolved at the trial or after a statement that the guilt has been accepted and a guilty plea has been filed. The sentence may include jail time, numerous fees, fines, community service, education classes or alcohol treatment.

Penalties for a minor for driving under the influence (DUI)

  • DUI for a minor (Age 10-16)

Penalizable with a fine of up to $ 500.00,

Not less than 40 or more than 60 hours of community service, and

The child’s driver’s license may be suspended (or denied driving privileges).

  • 1st. DUI violation of a minor (Age 17-20):

(Class C misdemeanor) – A penalty with a fine of up to $ 500.00,

20-40 hours of community service,

It is required to attend an Alcohol Prevention Course, and if you are under 18, the parent may be required to attend the course, and

The child’s driver’s license will be suspended for 120 days.

  • 2nd. DUI violation of a minor (Age 17-20):

(Class C misdemeanor) – A penalty with a fine of up to $ 500.00,

40-60 hours of community service,

It is required to attend an Alcohol Prevention Course

  • 3rd. DUI violation of a minor (Age 17-20): 

(Class C misdemeanor) – Punishable by a fine of not less than $ 500.00 or more than $ 2,000.00,

40-60 hours of community service, and / or

Prison confinement not exceeding 180 days.

In addition, the court may not grant you the deferred provision in a child’s third DUI offense.

Conclusion:

Avoiding a conviction charge can be tough when you are fighting for a DWI case without an experienced DWI Defense Attorney. To get the necessary legal assistance and representation help of a DWI/DUI lawyer is crucial to move forward and avoid the extreme consequences.  

Houston Texas DWI Resources

  1. 1.DWI Statutes: Drunk Driving (Texas Pen Code 49.04); Enhanced DWI sanctions (Tex. Pen. Code 49.09); Administrative suspensions of driver’s licenses (Tex. Trans. Code 524.022); Ignition Interlock Requirements (Trans Code Tex 521.246).
  2. DWI Safety Tips – Tips on the dangers and penalties associated with DWI crimes under Texas law (Texas Department of Transportation).
  3. DWI Education Program – Details about the required alcohol education after a DWI in Texas (Texas Department of State Health Services).
  4. https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/traffic/safety/sober-safe/intoxication.html
  5. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.49.htm
  6. https://www.texasimpaireddrivingtaskforce.org/about/dwi-laws-and-consequenc/
  7. https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/alr.htm

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