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Texas DWI law and penalties

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

While most states call drunk driving DUI, Texas calls it DWI or driving while intoxicated. Regardless of the initials, all states have laws and various penalties to combat drunk driving. A driver in Texas can face several stiff penalties for a DWI.

Overview of Texas DWI

Texas defines intoxication as when the driver does not have normal control of the vehicle or watercraft because of impaired mental and physical abilities. The law considers drivers intoxicated at a blood alcohol content level of .08, which includes alcohol, controlled substances, or a combination. A driver can also get a DWI charge without the vehicle in motion or if they register below .08 with signs of impairment.

Drivers may refuse the Breathalyzer, but they face a 180-day license suspension effective immediately upon refusing and two years for a second offense. Breathalyzers aren’t always accurate, so one criminal defense strategy could be to challenge its calibration.

DWI penalties

A first DWI is commonly a Class B misdemeanor with fines of up to $2,000 and $5,000 for BAC of .15 or more. The maximum jail term for a first offense is six months and the minimum license suspension is 180 days. They must also pay a $1,000 to $2,000 surcharge for three years to keep their license after the suspension term ends.

Penalties for a second DWI include up to a $4,000 fine, a 30-day to a 2-year jail term, and an 18-month license suspension. A DWI with a child passenger is a state felony with penalties of up to a $10,000 fine and up to two years in jail.

Drunk driving endangers other road users, so there are heavy consequences that follow. However, a driver can challenge the charge and could get it reduced to a reckless driving infraction.