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Drunk Driving DUI laws in Texas

  DUI Laws & Info  -   POSTED: 2010/09/14 16:17

Texas DWI Defined

In Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) means drunk driving, and the state uses your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to determine whether you're too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle.

Below are the state's BAC limits:

   21 years old or older: 0.08%
   Commercial drivers: 0.04%
   Younger than 21 years old: Any detectable amount.

Alcohol can affect you based on the number of drinks you've had, your body weight, and even your gender. Check out the TX blood alcohol percentage charts to learn more.
Additional Drug and Alcohol Crimes

Mostly, DWI crimes are related to your BAC when operating a motor vehicle and certain other circumstances (as you'll see below). However, officers can arrest you for other alcohol-related crimes involving your vehicle.

For example, it's illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of your vehicle if you're driving or parked on a public highway (Texas defines the “passenger area" as the area designed for people to sit in while traveling).

A simple open container violation results in a maximum $500 fine and a Class C misdemeanor. However, if you're arrested for DWI and open container, you'll get a Class B misdemeanor and a minimum of 6 days in jail.

For more information on other kinds of DWI laws, check out Title 10, Chapter 49 of the state's penal code.
Understand Your DWI Penalties

TX DWI penalties are based on factors like age, license type, and other circumstances (such as having other passengers in the vehicle, or horrific events like death).

Common DWI penalties you can expect include:

   Fines and surcharges (also tack on court costs and lawyer fees).
   License suspension or revocation.
   Community service.
   Imprisonment (even for a 1st offense).
   DWI education and intervention programs.
   More expensive car insurance, depending on your provider.

DWI Penalties: Minors

TX DWI laws distinguish anyone younger than 21 years old as a minor.
Minors and DWI

Like many states, Texas has a Zero Tolerance Law for minors and alcohol; this means drivers younger than 21 years old can't operate motor vehicles with any amount of alcohol or drugs in their systems.

For a 1st offense, you face:

   License suspension not to exceed 1 year.
   Up to a $500 fine.
   An Alcohol Education Program at least 12 hours long (see below).
   An additional 180 days of license suspension if you don't complete the Alcohol Education program.
   90 days of license suspension if your judge gives you community service. This means you'll also have an ignition interlock device (see below).

Expect to also pay fines, court costs, and legal fees, should your parents hire an attorney for you.
Minors and Other Alcohol Offenses

Pretty much any involvement you have with alcohol can affect your driving privileges in Texas―including non-driving alcohol offenses.

Examples of non-driving alcohol offenses include:

   Purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol.
   Lying about your age in an attempt to obtain alcohol.
   Presenting a falsified document stating that you're 21 years old in an attempt to obtain alcohol.
   Consuming alcohol.
   Possessing alcohol.
   Public intoxication.

Penalties for these offenses are as follows:

   1st offense: License suspension for 30 days.
   2nd offense: License suspension for 60 days.
   3rd offense: License suspension for 180 days.

Based on your situation (and possibly even your age), your judge also might order the Alcohol Education Program and community service.
DWI Penalties: Adults

Just like it does for minors, Texas assigns DWI penalties for drivers 21 years old or older according to the offense number and other situation-specific factors.
Offenses: DWI Alcohol or Drugs

1st Offense

   Up to a $2,000 fine.
   Jail time between 3 days and 180 days.
   License suspension for up to 2 years.
   Annual surcharge up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your license.
   DWI intervention or education program (see below).
   Possible ignition interlock device (see below).

2nd Offense

   Up to a $4,000 fine.
   Jail time between 1 month and 1 year.
   License suspension up to 2 years.
   Annual surcharge of up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your license.
   DWI intervention or education program (see below).
   Possible ignition interlock device (see below).

3rd Offense

   Up to a $10,000 fine.
   State prison time between 2 years and 10 years.
   License suspension up to 2 years.
   Annual surcharge of up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your license.
   DWI intervention or education program (see below).
   Possible ignition interlock device (see below).

DWI with a Child Passenger

If you're driving while intoxicated with a child younger than 15 years old in your vehicle, you face:

   Up to a $10,000 fine.
   Jail time up to 2 years.
   License suspension for 180 days.

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