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Texas DWI penalties and ignition interlock law, P.1

A drunken driving conviction can come with a variety of consequences for an offender. In our last post, we mentioned that Texas manages to avoid the extremes in terms of strictness in dealing with DWI offenders. In this and our next post, we wanted to look a bit more closely at some of the specific aspects of Texas law that can impact drunk-driving offenders, particularly ignition interlock devices.

First of all, there are the criminal penalties, which include a minimum of three days incarceration for first-time offenders, and a minimum of 30 days for second time offenders. In Texas, a DWI charge becomes a felony charge on the third offense, and prior offenses can be counted five years back. There are no minimum fines for first- or second-time offenders, though. 

In terms of administrative consequences, license suspension of three months and vehicle impoundment are also part of the picture. There are also additional penalties for child endangerment, and for offenders who had a blood alcohol content that exceeds 0.15.  

One of these penalties is use of an ignition interlock device. For first-time offenders, this is only mandatory when the offender’s blood alcohol content exceeded 0.15. Texas law requires use of an ignition interlock for a period of at least 12 months.

Anybody who has had to use an ignition interlock device can tell you that they can be frustrating to deal with, particularly since you have to periodically blow into the device to continue operating the vehicle. That being said, the devices do allow drivers the ability to travel during their license suspension period. In our next post, we’ll look at a new law that broadens the  use of these devices in Texas DWI cases

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