DUI/DWI and Related Crimes

How DUI/DWIs Work in Texas

Texas DUI/DWI laws are some of the strictest in the country, and for good reason: every 20 minutes in Texas, someone is injured or killed in an alcohol-related car accident. Of course, the best plan of action is to not drink and drive, but this doesn’t stop people from making mistakes.

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) in Texas is 0.08 percent. If your BAC is higher than this, you are considered to be legally intoxicated. However, other controlled substances can certainly impair your driving ability, even if your BAC doesn’t reflect that.

Even driving sober and having an open alcohol container in your vehicle can get you a $500 fine. What’s more, you’ll be charged with child endangerment in addition to a DWI if you have a minor under 15 years old in your car at the time you’re stopped by an officer. DWIs with child passengers earn drivers hefty penalties, such as losing driving privileges for 180 days, a maximum fine of $10,000, and a maximum jail sentence of two years. DWI charges associated with an accident that results in bodily harm or death are even more serious.

If you get stopped while drinking and driving, proceed as you would in any other routine stop. Have your license, registration, and insurance information ready when the officer walks up to the driver’s window. If you refuse a Breathalyzer test, your license will automatically be suspended for 180 days.

First-time DUI/ DWI offenders face relatively harsh penalties: loss of driving privileges for up to a year, a maximum fine of up to $2,000, and a possible jail sentence ranging from three to 180 days. These penalties double for second-time offenders, and third-time offenders could face up to $10,000 in fines and a maximum prison sentence of ten years. If you get two or more DUI convictions within five years, then your car will be outfitted with an Interlock system, or a system that requires you to pass a Breathalyzer test before you can start your car.

What are some other DUI/ DWI laws that are good for Texas drivers to know?

  • Driving on a Suspended License – Driving on a suspended or revoked license in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor, but these charges could be more serious depending on your prior criminal history. Generally speaking, the maximum penalty for Class C misdemeanors is a $500 fine. If you are convicted of this crime, you might have to pay an annual $250 surcharge fee on your license for three years.

If you did not have car insurance at the time of the offense, have previous convictions of driving on a suspended or revoked license, or if your license was suspended because of a DWI conviction, then you’ll be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, where maximum fines jump to $2,000 and come with a maximum jail sentence of up to 180 days.

For a driving on a suspended license offense to become a Class A misdemeanor, you have to have been driving without car insurance and have caused a crash that seriously injured or killed someone. The maximum fines for this crime is $4,000, while the maximum jail sentence is up to one year.

  • Intoxication/Reckless Manslaughter and Assault – Both reckless manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter that occur as a result of a DWI is a second-degree felony in Texas. Both convictions carry penalties of a maximum $10,000 fine and a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. However, this charge can be a first-degree felony if the person killed was a police officer, firefighter, or other emergency medical personnel. The prosecutor will have to prove that you were intoxicated at the time of the offense for you to be convicted.

This crime extends beyond cars, though. Even amusement park ride operators can get charged with this crime if they were found to be intoxicated at the time of the offense. The same goes for aircraft and watercraft operators. 

In short, don’t drink and drive—or better yet, operate any heavy machinery whatsoever. If you slip up and get caught behind the wheel, though, our firm stands ready to stand by you as you navigate the criminal justice system. We are currently offering free consultations to prospective clients.