Texas DUI charges and penalties brought against motorists who commit an offense within the state are strict so as to emphasize the negative influence of alcohol and drugs on safe driving. Penalties can be administered separately by TX Department of Public Safety (DPS) and state courts. These penalties usually include license suspensions, steep fines, jail sentences and more.

A number of factors affect the severity of TX DUI consequences, including the offender’s age, the number of prior violations of this type on his or her driving history, as well as the level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Find out more about DUI offenses in Texas, and how to restore your suspended license in such cases by reading the sections below.

DUI Citations and Convictions in Texas

If you receive a DWI ticket in TX and are convicted as a result, you will be subject to harsh punishments. Court-imposed DUI penalties are usually more severe than those issued by the DPS, as they include imprisonment sentences and large fines, participation in DUI classes and temporary driver license suspensions.

A police officer may arrest you and issue a citation for several alcohol-related offenses, including operating a vehicle with excessive BAC in your system, refusing to submit to a breath or blood test and violating other laws, such as the open container law.

Texas Under the Influence Violations and Penalties

The seriousness of DWI and DUI penalties in Texas is usually based on several factors, such as a driver’s age, the amount of BAC detected in their body at the time of testing, prior offenses on record and more.

While motorists over 21 years old are charged with DUI for a BAC level at .08 percent or higher, offenders under the legal drinking age will be in violation of the set laws for driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Also, licensees with more than one conviction will incur harsher penalties for any subsequent offense.

First DUI Offense

A first DUI in Texas committed by adult motorists may result in a driving license suspension ranging from 90 days to 1 year and a jail sentence of up to 180 days.

The cost of DUI fees in such instances can range up to $2,000. Additional punishments may also include participation in an alcohol education program, installation of an ignition interlock device, as well as community work (usually imposed on minors convicted of DUI).

Second DUI Offense

TX second DUI convictions may lead to a fine of up to $4,000, an imprisonment sentence ranging from 30 days to 1 year and temporary loss of the privilege to drive for up to 2 years. Mandatory participation in a DUI course may be required as well. In addition to this, the presiding court may order the installation of an IID on the offender’s vehicle.

Third and Subsequent DUI Offenses

DUI penalties issued to offending drivers for the third or any subsequent violation are an enhanced version of the aforementioned.

Therefore, motorists who are not able to have their TX DWI ticket dismissed to avoid a conviction on their driving transcript may face a prison sentence of up to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), a maximum license suspension of 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Similar punishments, including up to 20 years in prison, will apply to licensees who commit DUI or DWI offenses while accompanied by passengers younger than 15 years of age, as well as violations resulting in an assault or manslaughter.

Drinking and Driving in Texas

Strict Texas DUI laws are enforced by state agencies, as they recognize the negative effects of alcohol and drugs on driving habits, as well as their contributing role to car accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities. Hefty drunk driving fines and other penalties are imposed on motorists who violate state rules and regulations for the purpose of deterring offenders from committing similar offenses in the future. This reduces the number of fatal car crashes that occur in Texas.

Texas DUI Attorneys

If severe charges have been brought against you due to driving intoxicated in TX, consider hiring an attorney to better understand the charges to in turn act timely and properly.

Prior to seeking help with a Texas drunk driving attorney, remember to inspect the credentials of several candidates, ensuring you hire the one with the best knowledge of state and local alcohol-related laws. A good DWI lawyer in Texas must be able to advise you on how to plead, provide you with an explanation about the applicable court proceedings and negotiate lesser sentences on your behalf.

Texas Open Container Laws

It is against the set drunk driving laws in TX to operate a vehicle on a public roadway with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle’s passenger area. Severe DUI charges will be brought against you if you possess an open alcoholic beverage container while your vehicle is stopped, parked or in motion. A maximum fine of $500 will apply in addition to other punishments if convicted of such an offense.

Reinstating a Suspended Drivers License in Texas

Motorists who have a TX DUI suspended license will need to complete a set of specific steps imposed both by the presiding court and TX DPS in order to restore their driving privileges. The following list outlines several requirements that licensees with a DUI drivers license suspension must meet prior to initiating a reinstatement procedure:

  • Arrange payment for the applicable reinstatement fees, as well as additional costs such as an administrative fee for failure to complete an alcohol-related program.
  • Obtain proof of financial responsibility from an approved insurer and submit it to DPS.
  • Provide proof of a completed drug education program (if required by the court after being convicted of a drug or controlled substance violation).

Texas Alcohol Awareness Classes

Enrolling in a Texas DUI class may be a requirement imposed on licensees convicted of an offense for the purposes of learning more about the dangers of operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol and/or drugs.

Adult drivers with a DUI probation, for instance, must complete a 12-hour class in an approved alcohol-related traffic school program (unless this requirement is waived by the court) and file proof of completion with the DPS, otherwise they will be penalized with a license revocation.

Minors with a TX DWI conviction must also take a course unless they wish to face a suspension of their credentials.

Texas SR-22 Insurance

A mandatory step in the process of reinstating a DUI suspended license in Texas is submitting proof of car liability insurance to state Department of Public Safety. SR-22 is a DUI insurance form that drivers must obtain from an authorized insurance company and properly maintain coverage for a period of 2 years from the date of conviction.

Note that your insurance provider will inform DPS if your SR-22 form is canceled or lapses, which may result in further suspensions of your license and vehicle registration.

Texas Laws That Pertain to DUI/DWI

Under TX drunk driving laws, drivers 21 years of age or older will incur tough charges and penalties when found operating a vehicle with a BAC level of .08 percent or higher. Drivers under the legal drinking age are effectively committing a DUI violation for driving with even the slightest amount of alcohol in their system, thus violating the state Zero Tolerance Law.

Licensees younger than 21 years of age will also be in violation of the set DUI laws in Texas for purchasing, attempting to purchase or possessing alcoholic beverages while behind the wheel. Severe consequences will also be imposed on drivers who refuse to undergo a breath or blood specimen test, as this counts as failing to stay in compliance with the Implied Consent Law.

Hardship License in Texas

While completing the mandatory driver’s license suspension period, motorists may be eligible to request a hardship or occupational license, which restricts their driving privileges and authorizes them to drive for educational or work-related purposes among others.

Prior to applying for this license, however, DUI and DWI offenders must contact a nearby DPS location in TX to verify whether they qualify for the procedure. A request for a hardship license must first be made to the corresponding county or district court, upon which drivers must submit the necessary documents, including a certified copy of the petition and court order, an SR-22 form as well as payment of any applicable fees to DPS.

Last updated on Wednesday, March 4 2020.