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Texas DWI penalties and ignition interlock law, P.2

In our last post, we mentioned that a new law here in Texas will broaden the use of ignition interlock devices in DWI cases. As we noted, Texas law currently only mandates the use of these devices for drivers who have a blood alcohol content that exceeds 0.15.

Those with a blood alcohol content less than that amount still have to have their license suspended, which prevents them from driving. Judges can make exceptions, but this doesn’t currently happen as often as it should, particularly in urban areas. Not surprisingly, offenders often drive with a suspended license since they still have the need to get to work and run errands. 

Under the new law, which is to take effect in September, drunk drivers with a blood alcohol content less than 0.15 will be required to use an ignition interlock device while their license is suspended. The law would give judges discretion in the matter, but it is certainly going to increase the ability of DWI offenders to drive.

Interestingly, the bill has been pegged as both “light on crime” and as cracking down on DWI. The reason for this is that, while the bill does impose stricter ignition interlock requirements for DWI offenders with a lower BAC, it also allows these offenders to drive their vehicles while their license is suspended. In that sense, using an ignition interlock device is not all bad—it does allow one the freedom to drive, provided it is sober driving.

Minimizing the consequences of DWI charges is obviously an important task in criminal defense. Whether one is dealing with criminal fines, jail time, ignition interlock use, driver’s license suspension, or some other DWI consequence, it is important for defendants to work with an experienced attorney to ensure their rights are protected.

Sources:

The Dallas Morning News, “New Texas law lets drunken drivers opt for ignition interlocks,” Tristan Hallman, June 25, 2015.

Mysanantonio.com, Texas governor signs bill allowing breathalyzers in car for first-time DWI offenders,” Joshua Fechter, June 23, 2015.

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