Texas DUI and DWI Law

What is Texas DUI Law

The state of Texas takes driving under the influence seriously and will take the maximum possible penalties against the perpetrator when he or she faces a conviction for these offenses on the Texas roads. Texas may use a DUI or a DWI based on the influence of alcoholic drink or drugs with a driver in the state.

The Blood Alcohol Content Level in Texas

Similar to other states, the Texas authorities use the maximum national blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent to hold a person criminally responsible for intoxication. However, the person behind the wheel can become impaired through drug consumption and become mentally or physically unable to properly control the car. This is intoxicated whether it is through drugs or drink. It is possible to also suffer the same effects with prescription drugs which affect judgment and decision making when driving a vehicle. These matters extend to boats and recreational watercraft as well as bicycles and motorcycles.

Zero Tolerance in Texas

Similar to other states that use the zero-tolerance rule, it is illegal in Texas for someone under the age of 21 to drink and drive. If there is any alcohol found in the driver's system when he or she is even just below the age of 21, he or she will face a possible DUI charge because of it. Drinking anything before getting behind the wheel can lead to immediate administrative action through a license suspension, loss of driving privileges and even jail time. The youth may face programs for rehabilitation or counseling because of the action. Some may face driving school that they will need to pay for even when required by the courts in Texas.

DWI Without Actually Driving In Texas

Unlike some states, Texas can hold a person for a DWI or DUI even if he or she was not driving the vehicle at the time of the arrest or stop. Police officers may suspect someone of intoxication or that may have consumed drugs and question the person. The DWI or DUI is a statute that defines this possible arrest as operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The suspicion is that the individual has a BAC at or over 0.08 percent. There is no need to catch the person driving the vehicle in this state. Operate in the courts in Texas is a broad term and can involve anything that affects the functionality of a car in nearly any way.

Per Se DUI in Texas

The BAC limits in place can involve a per se DUI charge. This is when the BAC is what the officers will use for a charge of DUI rather than the possible level of impairment. Some drivers are able to operate the vehicle at a higher BAC than others. However, the state uses the amount and level of alcohol in the person's body as the evidence against him or her in these situations. These circumstances usually arise through a variety of factors that can include the size of the person, the weight, if he or she ate anything and similar factors that can change the BAC or impairment. It is necessary to separate these elements even as they apply to the case.

Factors of Impairment in Texas

While the BAC matters more, the individual can argue the case in the Texas courts based on the factors of impairment. These can include the number of drinks the person had before driving, the number of hours he or she waited before getting behind the wheel, the gender of the vehicle operator and the composition of the body. The element involving prescription drugs, health conditions and additional factors that only apply to this person can also affect the level of impairment. All these factors together can increase or decrease the chances of an officer stopping the driver under suspicion of DUI.

For the individual that operates under the same level of impairment based on the BAC, it is possible that only a few drinks can lead to a higher BAC and impairment equally. If the driver has any suspicion that he or she is under the influence, it is best to not get behind the wheel. A police officer will often pull the person over if he or she exhibits any signs of impairment. The more the person appears to drive under the influence, the more likely someone will call the cops or that law enforcement officers will arrive and pull this person over.

The Signs of Impairment in Texas

Police often look for certain signs a driver will exhibit when on the road. These warning signs usually are visible through the person weaving in and out of lanes, changing lanes without blinkers and changes in speed without the necessary need to do so at the time. Some drivers will even hit objects or collide with other cars on the road. The person behind the wheel may make a poor decision such as running into the grassy area rather than avoid it. These signs are often the prelude to a collision with an object on the road or another car which can cause property damage and injury.

The Offenses with DUI in Texas

There are multiple offenses the driver can commit regarding DUI. However, the DUI charge may lead to a conviction that stays on the person's record. Based on the first through third offense, penalties generally increase significantly. The offense can also require more punishments or a longer period to refrain from similar behavior. Fines usually increase along with the mandatory sentencing for punishments such as jail. The officer may report the matter involving multiple charges if the person injures another, is driving recklessly or if a minor is in the car at the time.

Implied Consent in Texas

Through an implied consent rule in Texas, it is an offense to refuse a breath or blood test after police stop a driver for suspicion of impairment. The implied consent law requires the driver to submit to the test through devices or a blood draw that can provide answers to the state about BAC levels. For even a single refusal, the driver can face administrative action through a license suspension and other penalties for the refusal. Each citizen of the state should remain aware of the implied consent rule that governs over any stop by police officers when the driver could operate the vehicle under impairment or influence.

Implied Consent Offenses

The administrative action usually occurs through the first through third offense involving a license suspension. The first time, the driver suffers this for 180 days, but the second it increases to two years and remains at this for the third offense. This is a loss of driving privileges that the driver will need to challenge with the Department of Motor Vehicles personally outside of any possible criminal action against the individual with charges of DUI in the state. These penalties are usually immediate because of the refusal to take a breath or blood test to check BAC levels.

Within the Past Ten Years in Texas

The offenses with both DUI and the refusals go back up to ten years on the person's record. Many states will either use a max cap on the timeframe to hold the individual accountable for a DUI conviction, but some will keep these records on the driver's file for life. In Texas, these offenses normally only remain applicable in the past ten years. If the driver moves out of Texas, other rules may apply, but if he or she moves back, the same rule will apply and hold the individual accountable for any DUI convictions in the past ten years' time.

Aggravated DUI in Texas

It is possible to incur greater charges than the standard DUI. In Texas, aggravating factors that can lead to an aggravated DUI may require a separate case. However, if the driver inflicted harm on another person during the trip behind the wheel, if he or she caused extensive property damage or incurred additional charges an aggravated DUI is possible. Law enforcement may charge the driver with a DUI which leads to the court case. At this point, if the driver was part of a larger issue, the charges may increase to aggravated which can also increase the possible sentencing the judge has available as a standard rather than as an exception.

Texas DUI Penalties

Similar to the refusal offenses, the penalties apply to the first through third offense before getting much more aggressive. These are also variable based on the factors of the case, the prior convictions the person has and other mitigating or aggravating factors that will increase or decrease possible sentencing. For a first offense, the person may spend between 72 hours and six months in jail. This violation often comes with a maximum BAC of .15 percent and twelve months in jail. The second offense is between 30 days and a year. The third offense is between two and ten years behind bars.

Fine for the first offense start at what the judge wants and can go as high as $2,000 for the standard BAC level of 0.08 but can also increase to a maximum of $4,000 with a BAC level of .15 percent or higher. At the second violation, these finds are a max of $4,000 and the third offense reaches up to $10,000. License suspension is usually mandatory and attached to other penalties. The first violation incurs 90 days to twelve months. The second violation incurs 180 days to two years with the third reaching the same length as the second.

Additional Penalties for DUI Convictions in Texas

When the driver suffers a conviction for a DUI charge, he or she often acquires an Ignition Interlock Device or IID. This is usually part of the other penalties and may stay in the car for a similar time as with jail sentences such as 180 days or up to ten years. This often also depends on the factors of the case and the need to check BAC levels before the person can drive. If the individual has multiple convictions in the past ten years, the IID is a precaution to prevent injury and other disasters from occurring because the person was drinking and driving. The judge may apply this for up to one year if the driver has prior convictions in his or her criminal past within the last five years.

Driving school programs and counseling are other possible penalties that the driver could face depending on the judge and the situation. The sentences may require some form of education to inform the person what he or she should have done based on poor judgment and decision-making capabilities when under the influence and behind the wheel. Counseling for alcohol addiction is important for many drivers that have prior convictions and cannot seem to kick the habit. Therapy sessions may cost the convicted person or could absorb through insurance policies depending on the situation and the circumstance surrounding the case.

The Possibility of a Plea Bargain in Texas

When the charge for DUI is weak or the evidence may not support the issue such as when the driver was only in the car but not driving, it is possible to hire a lawyer to work with a prosecutor and seek a plea bargain. This plea bargain may not assist in dismissing the case entirely, but the defendant may take a deal to wet reckless which is not as severe as a DUI. The wet reckless charge is reckless driving that may involve drugs or alcohol but is not exactly the same as driving while impaired because of alcohol in the system at or above the 0.08 percent.

The Legal Professional in the Texas DUI Case

The lawyer hired to defend the person charged with DUI because of a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher will have a tough job of protecting the client from conviction. He or she will either challenge the charges or attempt to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecuting lawyer. Challenging the charges often depends on the mitigating or aggravating factors involved in the case. The more severe the charges are, the less likely a plea bargain is possible. However, if the driver only appeared impaired but did not have a BAC of 0.08 percent, the charges may drop to wet reckless rather than a DUI.

Using the Lawyer in the DUI Case in Texas

The lawyer involved in the DUI case will need to help refute the charges, investigate the incident and determine what evidence is valid and which may have flaws. Any inaccurate breathe test results or blood test issues can help to remove the test itself from the case. Any lack of following certain procedures with a field sobriety test or waiting with the driver for fifteen minutes to apply the breath test could invalidate the results. The lawyer will also determine if it is possible to enter into a plea bargain and then negotiate this deal before taking it back to the client. If there is potential for it, the legal professional will even try to throw the case out on various grounds.

Hiring a Texas DUI Lawyer

When facing charges for impairment, BAC levels over 0.08 percent or consumption of drugs, the individual will need to hire a lawyer in Texas to fight the charges in the criminal proceedings. The lawyer will consider all factors before determining which defensive strategy is the best path forward and what to present to the client before presenting the argument in the courtroom.

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