What Sanctions Can You Expect If Convicted of Drunk Driving?
Like states across the country, Texas takes a serious approach to charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI), or while intoxicated (DWI). In fact, if you are under the age of 21, there’s a zero-tolerance policy—you can be charged and convicted for driving any type of motor vehicle with even a trace of alcohol in your system.
How Is Legal Intoxication Defined in Texas?
In Texas, a person may be convicted of DWI for driving a motor vehicle in a public place while “legally intoxicated.” You can be charged with legal intoxication for “not having 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.” Under this definition, you can be booked for DWI, even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal level, based on the observations of the arresting officer or other witnesses. You will also be considered legally intoxicated if your blood alcohol content is 8 percent or higher (.08).
What Is the Difference between DUI and DWI in Texas?
Legally, the term DUI (also referred to as DUIA—driving under the influence of alcohol), applies only to persons under the age of 21 who are pulled over and found to have alcohol in their systems. Though DWI and DUI are often used interchangeably, the correct term for all other types of drunk driving is DWI.
What Are The Penalties for Drinking and Driving in Texas?
For a DUI charge (which applies only to minors), the potential penalties for a first conviction include the loss of driving privileges for up to 60 days, a fine not exceeding $500, a maximum of 40 hours of community service, and compulsory attendance at and completion of an alcohol awareness program.
With a DWI charge, the potential penalty depends primarily on the number of convictions the defendant has received. DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, with the following consequences:
- First conviction—Driving privileges will be suspended for a minimum of three months and a maximum of one year. The defendant may be sentenced to anywhere from 6 days to 180 days in jail, and will be subject to fines of up to $2,000. In addition, the perpetrator will be required to pay an annual surcharge of up to $2,000 per year for three years to renew his or her driver’s license.
- Second conviction—Driving privileges will be lost for at least one year. The minimum jail sentence increases to one month, and the maximum goes up to one year. Fines may be increased to as much as $4,000 and the perpetrator will have the same surcharge as is exacted for a first conviction.
- Third and subsequent offenses—Driving privileges can be suspended for up to two years, and the defendant may face up to 10 years in prison, as well as fines of up to $10,000. The surcharge is also assessed for three years.
In addition to the above penalties, the court always has the discretion to order community service, substance abuse education or counseling, and the use of ignition interlocks (for two convictions in less than five years).
Contact the Experienced DUI/DWI Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we understand the potential implications of a conviction for driving under the influence or driving while impaired. We offer a free initial consultation to every client. To speak with an aggressive drunk driving defense lawyer, Contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.