Texas DUI Laws

The state of Texas is known for many things: its oil rigs, cattle, and most recently, for the Houston Astro’s World Series historic win. What you may not know about Texas is that it has some of the harshest DUI laws in the country, ranking in the top ten of states with formidable drunk driving laws. Since Texas is such a large state, it may not be a surprise that Texas usually leads the country as the state with the most drunk driving deaths, with approximately 1500 people losing their lives in alcohol-related accidents each year. Due to this statistic, the DUI laws in Texas are as tough as…well,…Texas.

Alcohol related crashes account for nearly half the driver fatalities each year in Texas, especially after midnight and in the early morning hours; then the number climbs to three-fourths of all accidents involve alcohol. It’s not hard to reach the legal drinking limit in Texas; it is just .08 but that still does not seem to deter those who choose to party and drive. If you are looking for three squares, a cot and not much of a view, one sure way to achieve this goal is to drive drunk in Texas, especially if you have a prior drunk driving conviction. Some states will cut you some slack if your DUI was several years ago—it varies from state to state—but Texas does not observe this rule. If you are convicted of DUI, it doesn’t go away after a period of time, making drinking and driving that much more precarious for drivers with previous DUI infractions.Even if you are not convicted of DUI, there are still ramifications. The state can levy fees and suspend your license, just for being arrested.

You might think you can get away with a slap on the wrist if you are convicted of your first DUI offense, but it ain’t so in Texas. In addition to possible jail time, expect a hefty fine and possible suspension of your driver’s license. And if you happen to have an open container when pulled over, you can expect six days in jail, even for your first offense. The penalties increase when the blood alcohol content increases: if it is determined that your BAC is more than .15 percent, expect your fine to double and a sentence of up to a year in jail. A first offense with a child under the age of fifteen will get you a felony charge, even for a first offense. The penalty increases with additional drunk driving convictions. A second conviction could possibly garner up to a year in jail, a large fine and the suspension of your license to up to two years. Three times or more? Your fine will jump to five figures, and your license will be suspended for a minimum of two years. That’s how long you’ll sit in jail—at the minimum. You could receive a sentence of to up to a decade of incarceration. Worse yet, if someone is injured or killed while you are driving under the influence, expect to call a jail cell home for several years, if convicted. Think you’re going to plead to a lesser charge, like a wet reckless charge, when arrested for drunk driving? Not in Texas, you’re not. While pleading to a lesser charge is not a possibility, a sugar land dwi lawyer charge can be beaten, if you have the proper defense or you can prove that you were stopped illegally.Still think the Texas laws aren’t harsh? A Texas man who was just convicted of his ninth DUI just scored life in prison for his actions.

There are other consequences that may result from your drunk driving conviction. Within the laws of the state and at the discretion of the judge, the state can require you to attach an ignition interlock device onto your steering wheel, so that you must prove that you are not drinking every time you drive your car. And then there are the mandatory classes you will need to attend to meet the terms of your sentence. You may be sentenced to attend alcohol classes, MADD meetings, and even assessment for alcohol addiction and you may have to complete community service, as well.

There are other costs as well. Your insurance company can choose to cancel your insurance if you are convicted of a DUI. If nothing else, your insurance will skyrocket. You could lose your job, too; there are certain industries with strict guidelines against DUI convictions, especially if the job involves a security clearance. When applying for a new job, many applications ask about prior arrests and convictions. Your DUI will show up in public records and on your driver’s license records, easily accessible to anyone who searches your background.

Perhaps the most damaging consequence of driving while drunk is the potential—and sometimes certain—loss of life. In addition to jail time, you may be subject to a civil lawsuit if you hurt or kill someone while you’re driving drunk. The other party can sue you for medical bills including ongoing treatment for injuries, including chiropractic care and physical therapy. You can also be sued if the injured party can’t work, and you can be sued for their lost wages and loss of earning capacity.  If someone is killed while you’re driving drunk, the family members can sue you to cover the medical and burial expenses. In certain circumstances, the family can sue for punitive damages if the court determines extra damages are warranted.

Knowing your rights and the consequences you face if you are accused of drinking and driving are imperative if you are going to mount any sort of defense. Speaking with an experienced DUI attorney is the first step in determining if you have a defense for the charge. DUI is a very serious charge, and consulting with someone who knows the law and can discuss your rights and options is strongly in your best interest. Remember, too, that Texas has some stringent fort bend dwi lawyer; you will want to be well represented.