In Texas, drunk driving is an extremely serious offense and one in which law enforcement and prosecutors alike are cracking down on. Officially, the State of Texas refers to a drunk driving offense as “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) as opposed to some other states where it is referred to as “driving under the influence” (DUI). The consequences of drunk driving can be severe and lasting. The criminal justice system views drunk driving as something that recklessly puts the lives of so many at risk and the potential punishments reflect this.
A DWI charge is applicable if the driver of a non-commercial vehicle is of the age 21 or older and has a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. It is also applicable for those drivers of commercial vehicles, which includes school bus drivers, who register a blood alcohol content of .04 or greater. A DWI charge is also applicable for those drivers who are under the age of 21 and have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
Texas penalties for drunk driving will vary depending on the specifics of the incidence. A first time DWI offender will face up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. Additionally, the offender’s drivers license may be suspended for 90 days. If a person commits a second DWI within five years of the first DWI offense, he or she faces up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines. There is also the potential for a driver’s license suspension period of one year. If a person commits a third DWI within five years of the first and second prior offenses, he or she faces a minimum of 2 years in prison and a maximum of 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. There is also a one-year driver’s license suspension period. On top of all of this, if the perpetrator of the DWI committed the offense when there was child passenger under the age of 15, an enhanced penalty will apply. The perpetrator of the DWI will face from 180 days up to 2 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Underage drivers also face serious penalties for driving while legally intoxicated. A minor who is at least 18 years of age, but who is still under the age of 21, faces 20 to 40 hours of community service work and a fine of up to $500 for his or her first DWI offense. The community services work must be related to the education or prevention of misusing alcohol. The DWI offender also faces a driver’s license suspension period of 30 days. For the second offense, the minor will face 40 to 60 hours of community service work and a fine of up to $500. For the third offense, the offender will face jail time for up to 180 days as well as a fine ranging from $500 to $2,000. There is also a driver’s license suspension period of 180 days.
A commercial driver faces penalties above and beyond those imposed upon other violators. For instance, as the result of a first DWI offense, the driver of a commercial vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. However, if the DWI occurred while the commercial driver was operating a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous material, he or she will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for three years. A commercial driver convicted of a second DWI offense will face a lifetime disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle.
As you can see, the consequences of drunk driving are severe. There is jail time, fines, and license suspension to consider. There is also the loss of the ability to maintain your livelihood to consider. Commercial drivers are especially at risk of losing their ability to maintain gainful employment should they be convicted of a DWI. If you are facing a DWI charge, it does not mean that you will be convicted. Hire trusted DWI defense counsel as soon as possible.