DUI/DWI Information for Texas
Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offense committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.
In Texas, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.
REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN TEXAS
In Texas, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years of age and it is set at 0.0% for those under 21. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.
Having a Texas license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being revoked for a year.
Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:
If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.
- The first offense will result in imprisonment for 3 days to 6 months and up to a $2000 fine.
- Your license will be suspended for 90 days to 1 year.
- The second offense will result in imprisonment for one month to one year and up to a $4000 fine.
- Your license will be revoked for six months to two years.
- The third offense will result in imprisonment for 2-10 years and up to a $10000 fine. Also, if convicted for the third offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
- 12 points will be added to your driving record.
- Your license will be revoked for two years.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21
- Drivers below 21 will receive a license suspension of 30, 60 and 90 days respectively for the first, second and third citation of any alcohol related offense, even if they are not driving at the time. These include: age misrepresentation, purchase or attempt to do so, possession, consumption or public intoxication by a minor. There are no conditions for reinstatement in these cases.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS
If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
- Points will be added to your driving record and you will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%. You will also be issued an "out-of-service" order valid for 24 hours by the arresting officer.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/DWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.
ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:
Texas laws have administrative implications in addition to the criminal laws against DUI/DWI. An officer may arrest a driver if:
- He/she is aged 21 and above and is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.
- He/she is aged below 21 and is driving with any detectable BAC or has committed any alcohol related offense whether driving or not.
Under this law, if you are arrested for DUI/DWI, the arresting officer will transport you to the police station where the BAC test will be performed. If you refuse or fail the test, the officer will confiscate your Texas driver license and issue a Notice of Suspension
The driver can request an administrative hearing by an Administrative Law Judge within 15 days of the notice of suspension/revocation. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer beforehand. If no hearing is requested, the suspension takes effect after 40 days. Otherwise, the temporary driving permit issued at the time of arrest stays in effect till the hearing is completed. If the hearing goes against the driver, his license will be suspended or revoked based on his previous driving record.
If the administrative hearing goes against the driver, he can appeal against the ruling to the county court. If this appeal is properly filed, the suspension is automatically stayed by 90 days. If the verdict is the same as the administrative hearing, then the driver will have to complete the remaining period of his suspension/revocation and then file for reinstatement of the license. If the verdict goes in favour of the driver, then his license will be returned and the suspension/revocation will be cancelled.
If the driver, however, does not request a hearing, then the suspension/revocation begins on the 40th day after the arrest, and is final. An occupational or restricted interlock license costs $10 per year in addition to the reinstatement fee.
LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:
If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Department of Transportation, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
- If the court has mandated that you must complete a DWI Offenders' Program you must provide proof of completion, pay the reinstatement fee of $120, and maintain proof of financial responsibility by filing SR-22, if needed.
- The court may also order an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyser tests on any vehicle you drive if you are granted restricted driving privileges for part of the period of revocation.
- You can carry the reinstatement application with fees to one of these locations or send it with a money order or check favoring "TX DPS" to:
Texas Department of Public Safety Central Cash Receiving P.O. Box 15999 Austin TX 78761-5999
- DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON'T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
- If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
- See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.