DUI & DWI in Texas
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Texas is a national leader in many areas―unfortunately, one of these is in the number of accidents and deaths related to driving while intoxicated (DWI). Each year, thousands of Texans are involved in this tragedy; about 2,000 of them die.
The Texas limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when you're driving is 0.08%. Texas also has a zero-tolerance law for underage drinking; any detectable amount of alcohol in drivers under 21 is a crime.
Yet young drivers account for many alcohol-related traffic accidents, and the age group with the most violations and accidents are those between 21 and 34. Remember, teens and young people are actually more prone to reaching higher alcohol concentrations more quickly than older drinkers. Size and body weight also play a role. Big Uncle Fred may be able to toss back those shots of tequila and maintain an allegedly safe BAC but younger, smaller people may not be able to.
While a DWI conviction requires a BAC of 0.08% or above, any driver can be cited for "driving while impaired" by drugs or lower concentrations of alcohol.
Before we even start, we should point out that if a law enforcement officer asks you to submit to a breath or blood test to determine the alcohol content of your blood. A chemical test refusal means your license will probably be taken away from you on the spot and suspended for six months. This is in addition to any suspension you might get later if you're convicted of DWI.
Below are the basic penalties for various DWI violations. However, in addition to these, DWI convictions carry an additional financially devastating penalty called conviction-based surcharges. This is an ongoing additional fine that must be paid each year for three years, and it can run you thousands of dollars. We discuss this program more fully in our article about the driver license point system.
Drivers 21 and Over
A first offense brings:
- Up to a $2,000 fine
- Up to six months behind bars
- Driver license suspension: Up to one year
- Annual fine of $1,000 for three years to keep driving privileges
A second offense brings:
- Up to a $4,000 fine
- Up to one year behind bars
- Driver license suspension: Up to two years
- Annual fine of $1,500 for three years to keep driving privileges
A third offense brings:
- Up to a $10,000 fine
- Two to 10 years behind bars
- Driver's license suspension: Up to two years
- Annual fine of $2,000 for three years to keep driving privileges
Drivers Under 21
The threshold for an alcohol-related driving conviction is lower for drivers under 21. If you're not of legal drinking age, then it's against the law to operate a vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood (this is what "zero tolerance" refers to).
Underage offenders who commit any of the following offenses face suspension periods of 30 days (first offense), 60 days (second offense), and 180 days (third offense):
- Purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol
- Age misrepresentation
- Alcohol possession
- Alcohol consumption
- Public intoxication
Note that the penalties vary depending on the measurable amount of alcohol in the system. Too, penalties can include additional requirements like attending the Alcohol Awareness Course.
Driving With a Child
DWI with a child passenger is considered a felony. If caught, your license will be immediately suspended.
Other Topics in This Section
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- Find Out How Much DUI and DWI Convictions Really Cost
We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.