No matter what state you’re driving in while intoxicated (DWI), it’s a serious matter. More than one DWI is even more serious. A third DWI can screw up your entire life.
Every state has different laws and ramifications for DWIs. The one constant is that in the last 20 plus years, DWIs have become a much more serious offense.
Although deaths from drunk driving accidents are way down over the past few decades, 28 people are still killed every day in a drunk driving crash.
Read on below if you want to learn more about DWIs and what happens if you get three in Texas.
Texas DWI Laws
The law in Texas states that it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above 0.08% if you’re 21 or older.
If you’re under the age of 21, any amount of alcohol found in your BAC constitutes a DWI. If you’re driving a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is 0.04%.
You can be charged with DWI either if you’re drunk or if drugs are found in your system.
1st Offense 21 and Over
For your first offense as a 21 and over adult for DWI, you’ll face up to a $2,000 fine. You could also face 3-18 days in jail, which usually gets suspended pending your probation.
Your license gets suspended for six months to two years. You must enroll in a DWI intervention and education program. There’s also a possibility you’ll have to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car.
An ignition interlock device ensures you don’t operate your vehicle with alcohol in your system.
You need to blow into the device every time you start your vehicle and at certain intervals during each trip.
It’s a huge nuisance, not to mention embarrassing if you have friends in your car. The interlock device may be required for six months to a year, and you have to pay for it.
2nd Offense 21 and Over
If you’re convicted of a second DWI offense, you’ll face up to $4,000 in fines and one month to one year of possible jail time. You could have your license suspended for up to two years.
Attend a DWI intervention and education program. You’ll probably have to have the interlock ignition device installed for one year.
3rd Offense 21 and Over
A third offense of DWI in Texas is a major problem. You’ll face fines up to $10,000 and two to 10 years in prison. Your license can and most likely will be suspended for two years.
You’ll have to attend the DWI intervention and education program, and more than likely have the interlock ignition device installed when you get your license back.
Basically, your life will be affected for a minimum of three to four years. However, it will probably be affected much longer than that.
Under 21 DWIs
A DWI is actually called driving under the influence (DUI) for people under the age of 21. There’s zero tolerance for people under 21.
If you have any alcohol in your system while driving a motor vehicle and get pulled over, your license will be suspended for up to one year.
You’ll get up to a $500 fine and have to attend a 12-hour long alcohol education program. If you don’t complete the program, your license will be suspended for another 180 days.
If, for whatever, reason the judge in your case decides to give you community service, you’ll get another 90-day license suspension.
Commercial Drivers and DWI in Texas
If you drive a commercial vehicle, you’re only allowed 0.04% BAC. That’s basically one beer. As a commercial driver, you’re held to a higher standard.
Your commercial driver’s license (CDL) will be disqualified for one year. And you may face further penalties from your company.
If you drive a vehicle designated for hazardous materials, you’ll be disqualified for three years.
How Many DWIs Is a Felony in Texas?
Most of the time, a DWI is a misdemeanor. However, some circumstances constitute a felony DWI.
The most common way to be charged with a felony DWI is if it’s your third offense. You’ll most likely get a third-degree felony charge on your record.
If you’ve previously been in a Texas state prison for DWI, you’ll get a second-degree felony.
A second-degree felony will come with a $10,000 fine, two to 20 years in jail, and two years suspended license.
You can be charged with a felony DWI on your first or second offense. If you’re charged with intoxication assault along with the DWI, it can be a felony.
If someone gets seriously injured because you were driving drunk, you’ll most likely get a third-degree felony charge.
The state of Texas constitutes serious bodily injury as a significant risk of death, serious and permanent disfigurement or loss, and damage that impairs an organ or body part.
If someone is killed in the crash, you’ll be charged with intoxication manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony.
What if I Don’t Comply?
If you refuse the BAC test, you’ll face an Administrative License Revocation (ALR). This is different from a DWI license suspension. The ALR has its penalties and fines.
The first offense is 180 days of license revocation for adults, and the second is two years. It’s 180 days for people under 21 too.
If you fail the BAC, meaning you continually don’t blow hard enough into the machine, you’ll have your license revoked for 90 days the first time.
The second time will be one year. For those under 21, It’s a 60-day revocation for the first offense and two years for the second.
State of Texas DWI Laws
DWIs are a serious offense in the state of Texas. Police, prosecutors, and judges alike don’t play around when it comes to drinking and driving.
They particularly don’t like it if you are arrested for more than one offense. And if you injure or kill someone, it will affect your life forever.
In any case, you’ll end up spending a lot of money on fines, classes, interlock devices, and of course, attorney fees. If you or someone you know needs a DWI lawyer in Texas, contact us today.