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Bill would impose harsher penalties on first time DWI offenders

Drunken driving is an important highway safety issue in every state, and especially in the state of Texas, which claims the greatest number of drunken driving fatalities per year. There are a variety of strategies that have been and are being used in the battle against drunken driving, and these naturally include stricter criminal penalties. If lawmakers in Texas have their way, the penalties are about to become stricter, particularly for first time offenders.

A House Bill currently under consideration would target first time DWI offenders by requiring them to use ignition interlock devices. Presently, ignition interlock devices are not imposed upon first time offenders unless they register a BAC of .15 or more, though repeat offenders are required to use them. The requirement for first time offenders is sometimes not enforced, though. The bill requires that first-time offenders use the devices for between 90 days and one year. 

Part of the reasoning behind requiring ignition interlock devices for first time offenders is that research shows the devices reduce recidivism. Currently, there are 24 states which require ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders.

Ignition interlock devices, like other consequences of DUI, can be disruptive for offenders and it is important to do everything possible to minimize these consequences. For first time offenders, there are typically more opportunities to do this, though it depends on the circumstances of the case. The important thing for defendants, whether facing DUI charges for the first time or not, is to work with an experienced attorney to make sure they have the advocacy necessary to best position themselves for a favorable outcome.

Source:, "Legislation aims to get tougher on first-time drunken drivers," Genevieve K Curtis, March 6, 2015. 

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