Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
"Alcohol and cars don’t mix, period," according to the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the laws in Texas reflect that sentiment. The Texas driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws are meant to keep any driver off the road who is under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, and even some over-the-counter drugs, can adversely impact the reflexes and concentration needed to safely operate a vehicle. If you or someone you care about is facing DWI charges, the Austin, TX based criminal trial lawyers of Minton, Burton, Bassett, & Collins are here to help.
The blood alcohol content, or BAC, is used to determine the level of your impairment. In Texas if you have a BAC of .08% or higher you will be charged with DWI. The definition for intoxication includes both alcohol and drugs. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was a contributing factor in 8% of automobile crashes in the state. However, alcohol or drugs accounted for 28% of all fatal crashes in the state. DWI is the second most common factor for crashes in Texas.
When a police officer stops you and suspects you are intoxicated, he will ask you to take field sobriety tests such as reciting the alphabet or maintaining your balance while standing on one leg. After administering these tests if the officer deems you intoxicated, you will be taken to the police station where you will be given a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine. The result of this test is your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level. If you refuse to take the test your driver’s license will be suspended.
Penalties and Education
The penalties for DWI are tough in Texas - among the toughest in the country. Following are the ranges of penalties for DWI offenses:
- 1st offense: $2,000 fine; 6 months in jail; suspended driver’s license up to a year; $1,000 every year for 3 years to keep your driver’s license.
- 2nd offense: $4,000 fine; 1 year in jail; suspended driver’s license for up to 2 years; $1,500 every year for 3 years to keep your driver’s license.
- 3rd offense: $10,000 fine; 2-10 years in jail; suspended driver’s license for up to 2 years; $2,000 every year for 3 years to keep your driver’s license.
Article 42.12, Section l3(h),Code of Criminal Procedure requires persons convicted of first offense DWI and receiving probation, to attend and successfully complete an educational program certified by the department.
Failure to complete the program within 180 days (unless an extension was granted) from the date probation was granted will result in the offender's license being revoked. The license cannot be reinstated until the educational program is completed.
2008 Texas and National DWI Statistics:*
- In 2008, 11,773 people were killed nationally in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. These alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 32 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States.
- The 11,773 fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during 2008 represent an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 45 minutes.
- In the state of Texas, 26% of the fatal accidents were caused by drivers with a BAC level of almost double the states limit of .08%.
- 38% or 1,269 of the 3,382 vehicle fatalities involved a driver with a BAC at the legal limit of .08%.
- 9,641 serious injuries resulted in Texas car accidents involving an under-the-influence driver.
- The highest percentage of DWI accidents occurred in Texas on Saturday and Sunday mornings between the hours of midnight and 4:00am, with 2:00am – 3:00am having the most accidents.
Contact Us Today
When it comes to DWI and other alcohol-related cases, time is of the essence - you have 15 days from the date the arresting officer serves you with a notice of suspension to request a hearing to contest the suspension.
Talk with an attorney as soon as possible after you have been charged to ensure that you have the best defense. Contact the Texas drunk driving attorneys at MBFC now by calling (512) 476-4873, by email at email@example.com, or by filling out this online form. We will defend your rights and reputation.
For complete information regarding DWI laws in Texas see the Texas Drivers Handbook.