Dwi Laws in Texas

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Just a few short years ago, a Texas DWI was commonplace. Unfortunately for Texans, their state leads the nation in accidents and deaths that resulted because of driving while intoxicated (DWI). In 2019, Texas DWI related accidents resulted in 1,332 deaths. Texas DWI laws are now some of the toughest in the nation. This focus on DWI offenses by law enforcement is a major push in the effort to get drunk drivers off the roads.

Texas has strict Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) laws, which are implemented stringently by the police. If you are found guilty of breaking these laws, you may have to undergo harsh penalties and even be jailed.

DWI crimes or alcohol and drug-related traffic offenses, are one of the most commonly prosecuted criminal offenses in Texas. You will be subject to severe penalties, if you are proven to be intoxicated.

If the alcohol concentration in your blood, breath or urine is .08 percent or higher you’ve broken the law. To understand these laws better, you must at first learn about the meaning of the term “intoxicated.”

Texas Definition of DWI

According to Texas DWI law, intoxication is a state that does not necessarily mean that you are drunk. The law defines a person to be “intoxicated” if they lose the normal use of mental or physical faculties. Your incapability to perform normal activities could be due to the use of any of the following

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Drugs
  • Controlled substances
  • Any combination of the above.

So the term DWI does not just apply to alcohol, other substances can get you “intoxicated” and hence liable to be arrested if violating the DWI laws in Texas. This means that even if you have not taken a sip of alcohol, you can be considered to be intoxicated with a drug or a controlled substance in your body.

DWI Boats, Cars, Planes and More

You don’t necessarily have to be driving an automobile to be arrested for DWI. If you are operating a vehicle, vessel or even a boat or jet ski in public, then you can be considered to be driving while intoxicated, which is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. So it’s not just on the road; if you are on the road, water or in the sky and operating a “vehicle” while intoxicated, then you are committing a DWI offense in the eyes of the state laws of Texas.

Texas Penalties for DWI

Now that you know the scenarios in which a person can be arrested for drunk driving, let’s look at the penalties one might have to suffer. The minimum amount of time a person will be jailed in Texas for driving while intoxicated is 72 hours. If the police seize an open container of alcohol in the person’s possession at the time of the arrest, then the jail time is at least six days. This is because, as per the laws, consuming any amount of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle is an offense in Texas.

Apart from the jail time, a person found guilty of a DWI the first time will have his or her driver’s license suspended for 90 days to one year. An offender’s driving license will be suspended automatically if the blood, breath or urine tests come back positive with indication of alcohol, even if there is no conviction. The DWI laws in Texas also require an offender to complete an alcohol educational program.

A person caught operating any motor vehicle in a state of intoxication has to complete the program and anyone who fails to complete such a program, when sentenced to do so, stands to lose their license. If a person is caught driving under the influence a second time and convicted, their driver’s license will be suspended for another 18 months. He or she will have to pay $125 to get their license back at the end of the suspension period.

  1. 1st offenders suffer suspended license for minimum of 90 days to one year
  2. 2nd offenders license suspended for 18 months
  3. Immediate suspension if blood, breath or urine test is positive, even if later found not guilty
  4. Minimum jail time is 72 hours
  5. Open container equates to minimum jail time of six days
  6. Required to complete an alcohol education program
  7. Pay $125 or more to get license back after suspension

If a person refuses to submit to a blood, breath or urine test, he or she is also likely to be penalized under Texas DWI laws. Texas laws are very stringent and one must make sure to be on the right side of them, when operating a vehicle.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

If you are stopped by an officer for suspicion of DWI, they will probably ask you to take a field sobriety test and a chemical test. There are three field sobriety tests:

  • The horizontal gaze test
  • The walk and turn test
  • The one leg stand

These DWI tests are designed to measure your physical and mental acuteness. If asked to take these tests, you have the right to politely decline. The officer may also ask you to take a chemical test. This test is usually administered to measure you Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

Texas DWI laws basically state that whenever you drive, you are consenting to take an alcohol or drug test, if a police officer deems it necessary. If you do not consent (even politely) to the chemical test after 41 days, your license will be suspended for 180 days. If you have a previous in-state Texas DWI, your license will be suspended for two years. Also, your drivers license will be confiscated at the time of the arrest.

If you are stopped for suspicion of DWI in Texas, there are two definitions of being intoxication to be aware of:

  1. A driver can be arrested for DWI in Texas if that person does not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body;
  2. Having a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08 or more.

Texas DWI Law Penalties: First Offense

If you are convicted of a DWI in Texas, the law assesses harsh penalties.

  • Jail: Minimum 72 hours, or 6 days if open container is present
  • Fine of up to $2,000
  • A surcharge of $1,000 per year for three years for a first DWI offense
  • A possible 1 year suspension of driving
  • Community service of at least 24 hours but not more than 100 hours
  • If a driver gets a second Texas DWI conviction, the penalties are even higher.

Penalties for Second Texas DWI: Conviction

  • Jail: 72 hours, not more than 1 year
  • Fines of up to $4,000
  • A surcharge of $1,500 per year for three years for a second DWI offense
  • A drivers license suspension of 180 days to 2 years
  • Community service of at least 80 hours but not more than 200 hours
  • A 32 hour “Texas DWI” repeat offender program.

Third Texas DWI: Arrest

If a driver is convicted of a third Texas DWI, the penalties become even harsher and time in the state penitentiary would be possible. In addition to the penalties imposed by the state, there are other consequences that can be “both humiliating and expensive.”

  • Large attorney’s fees
  • The extra cost of paying for SR 22 insurance coverage
  • The humiliation of having a DWI on your driving record

Purchasing SR-22 Insurance

Texas DWI law requires SR22 insurance as one of the consequences of being convicted of a DWI in Texas, if you want to drive.

SR-22 is not a special insurance, rather it is a certificate that is issued by the state, which proves that you have met minimum liability insurance requirements. There are many insurance agents/insurance companies that will sale you this coverage. When you look to purchase SR 22 insurance, you will find that the premiums are higher for this coverage than for ordinary coverage’s. This is because you are considered to be an high risk driver.

There is still no reason to pay more than you need to. You can use the free insurance rate comparison portal above to gather quotes from a multitude of insurance companies. You can then compare quotes and coverage’s side by side to determine which insurer gives you the best coverage for the most affordable price.

When you purchase SR22 coverage remember two things:

  1. Compare quotes from a variety of companies. Often times the price of the same insurance coverage can vary widely from company to company
  2. Purchase your insurance from a reputable company that has a good customer service record.

SR22Texas.org is the leading insurance comparison resource in Texas. We offer quote comparisons for SR 22 coverage for those caught driving while intoxicated in Texas.

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