Given the frequency of alcohol-related vehicle crashes, the state of Texas is serious about preventing drivers from getting on the road while intoxicated.
You may never have had any experience with law enforcement until an officer stops you on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, and you are understandably nervous. What happens next?
Understanding the law
If you drive in Texas with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or higher, law enforcement can arrest you and charge you with driving while intoxicated, or DWI. Whether you are a driver or a passenger, you will also face a fine of up to $500 if the police find an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. If the police arrest you for DWI and there is a child younger than 15 in the vehicle, you face a charge of child endangerment, loss of your driving privileges for 180 days, a fine of up to $10,000 and the possibility of up to two years in a state jail.
Your responsibilities if stopped
If law enforcement pulls you over, you should prepare to show your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. The officer may ask you to take a breathalyzer or blood test. Keep in mind that if you refuse, you are looking at an automatic license suspension of 180 days.
A look at penalties
For a first offense, you can lose your driver’s license for up to a year or pay an annual fee of up to $2,000 for three years to retain it. You could also pay a fine of up to $2,000 and spend from three to 180 days behind bars. If you are a repeat offender, the penalties increase. For example, for a second offense, you would pay a fine of up to $4,000 and serve one month to a year in jail. You could also lose your license for up to two years.
If law enforcement arrests you for DWI, explore your legal options without delay. The first steps in your defense will include a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding your arrest, including any administrative errors or testing equipment issues that may have occurred. Texas DWI laws are harsh, and you will want an advocate to help you obtain the best outcome possible for your case.