Interlocks coming for first-time DWI offenders in Texas?

New law could change the interlock requirements in Texas.

The state of Texas requires that those who are convicted of multiple DWI offenses install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. These devices prohibit a vehicle from starting if alcohol is present on the driver's breath. Any attempts to tamper or circumvent the interlocks result in severe penalties for the offender.

A new bill has been proposed that could require some first-time DWI offenders to install these devices in their vehicles. Currently, first-time offenders are not required to install these devices unless they have high blood-alcohol content levels at the time of the stop.

Under the proposed new law, if an offender is facing a license suspension due to a first-time DWI conviction, the individual has the option to install an ignition interlock in order to keep his or her license. Judges would be allowed to decide whether or not the person would be eligible to retain driving privileges with the use of the interlock.

The state hopes that these changes would help reduce the number of individuals killed by drunk drivers each year. Texas has consistently ranked at the top in the number of DWI-related accident fatalities, and has struggled at developing an approach that brings this number under control.

El Paso County has long used interlocks as part of its DWI drug court program. While the use of interlocks has helped, there have been some concerns that the county is failing in its oversight responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that repeat offenders install the devices in a timely fashion.

A recent review by a news organization determined that there were several repeat offenders on roadways in the county who had not installed the interlock devices as required by state law. Many of the offenders were released on bond, pending the outcome of their cases. While out on bond, several of these offenders were driving vehicles that did not have interlock devices. The judges have now pledged to review the bond in these cases to ensure that repeat offenders have to install the devices.

As you can see, the penalties for DWI are constantly being reviewed. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. While you may feel like this is a minor case, there are long-lasting consequences that you need to take seriously.

Your attorney can work with you to help you build an aggressive defense to these charges. This will allow you to protect your driving privileges and minimize the impact that this will have upon your life.