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Texas DWI laws and penalties

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2021 | DWI & Alcohol |

Statistics report that about one-third of accidents on public roads involve drunk driving and cost around $44 billion per year. This is why all states make driving intoxicated the law although penalties vary. Drivers in Austin, Texas, face various penalties for drunk driving, so anyone charged with DUI or DWI will want to understand the relevant laws.

Texas DUI law overview

Drunk driving in Texas means the driver lacks the normal mental and physical functions to stay safe because of alcohol, drugs or both. Texas uses the acronym DWI, or driving while intoxicated; DUI is a different charge commonly given to minors under the zero-tolerance laws that make any amount of alcohol illegal for drivers under 21.

A DWI is for drivers 21 and older with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 for standard drivers or 0.04 for commercial drivers. However, a driver doesn’t need to register 0.08 to get charged with drunk driving as long as they show impairment. It is also illegal to operate an aircraft or watercraft with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.

Texas DWI penalties

A first DWI offense in Texas carries up to a $2,000 fine and three to 180 days of jail. It may carry an up to two-year license suspension based on circumstance, and the driver must pay a surcharge for three years afterward to keep their license.

Penalties for a second offense often include one month to a year of jail and a maximum $4,000 fine. The license suspension period increases from one month to three years with a $2,000 yearly surcharge. The penalties may increase for all offenses if aggravating factors are present, such as having a child passenger, weapons or past traffic violations.

The prosecution must prove that the driver was drunk during the traffic stop. However, defenses such as an inaccurate breath test or illegal stop could cast doubt on the validity of the charges.