The Texas Department of Transportation reports that somebody dies or receives injury in an alcohol-related crash every 20 minutes statewide. In light of this, it may not come as a surprise that the state of Texas is strict when it comes to addressing alcohol-related driving offenses.
If authorities have accused you of drinking and driving in Texas, you may understandably feel frightened and worried about how these criminal charges will impact your future. Could you go to jail, and if so, how long? Also, would a conviction for driving while intoxicated, or DWI, ruin your reputation? Here is a look at what Texas law says about driving under the influence in the Lone Star State.
Texas laws regarding drinking and driving
Under state law, you have committed a DWI offense if you operated a car in a public location while intoxicated. Authorities define intoxication as having impaired physical or mental faculties as a result of consuming drugs, alcohol or both together. Officials also define intoxication as having a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08.
Based on these definitions, authorities may still accuse you of intoxication even if your BAC is not .08. A police officer may determine alcohol impairment by using a breath sample test as well as a field sobriety test.
Consequences for DWI
If you face your first conviction for DWI, you can expect to pay a fine of $2,000 or less, spend between six and 180 days behind bars, and have a suspended driver's license for 90 days to a year. For a second offense, your fine amount may jump to $4,000, your time in jail may span a month to a year, and your license suspension period will be at least a year.
Meanwhile, for a third offense, your fine will increase to $10,000, and you will spend two to 10 years behind bars. In addition, your license suspension period will span a year to two years. For all three offenses, you will also have to pay a yearly fee of $2,000 or less for three years to keep your license.
How to ensure you have the best defense possible
If you face a DWI charge in Texas, you have the right to proceed to trial to fight the charge. You cannot face a conviction until and unless the prosecution can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney will push for the most favorable outcome for you while making sure that your rights remain protected during each stage of the criminal proceedings.