Texas DUI and DWI Laws and Penalties

In Texas, a DUI charge is a serious offense. If you’re convicted of a DUI, you could face penalties ranging from a fine all the way up to imprisonment or even the complete loss of your ability to drive. In most cases, you’ll have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) even after your first offense. It’s important to understand Texas law if you want to stay in compliance and move forward. But understanding the law can be difficult. While each case is unique, the following information applies to typical situations and can help guide you in what to expect.

 

Is it Legal to Drive? BAC Levels and Legality in Texas

 

In the state of Texas, it’s always illegal to drive if your BAC level is 0.08% or higher. This law applies to every driver in every situation. However, your age and other circumstances could subject you to even stricter limits.

 

  • Under 21 – If you’re under the age of 21, a BAC of 0.01% is illegal. If you’re pulled over and you test at this level or higher, it’s automatically considered to be illegal because you’re not at the legal drinking age. Texas has a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking since it’s illegal for you to be drinking in the first place. Therefore, any alcohol is illegal.
  • Under 18 – Any measurable sign of alcohol is illegal if you’re under 18. Any charges will probably be handled in the juvenile court system. Consult your attorney for information.
  • Commercial Vehicle – If you’re driving a vehicle that requires a commercial license and you’re given a sobriety test, any level above 0.04% is considered illegal due to the nature of commercial driving.

Circumstantial DUI Laws in Texas

 

Depending on how many offenses you’ve had prior to your current arrest, you’ll face various penalties in Texas ranging from fines to imprisonment. While every case is unique, here are the legal implications assigned to various circumstances pursuant to Texas DUI law.

 

First Offense

 

In the state of Texas, your first DUI offense can carry with it some steep penalties.

 

  1. Fines of up to $2,000 in fines. If your BAC tested above 0.15% those fines can be up to $4,000.
  2. License Suspension that can last from 90 days to a year, or up to two years if you refuse a BAC test.
  3. Imprisonment  that can last anywhere from 72 hours to six months, or up to a year maximum if your BAC tested at 0.15% or higher.
  4. IID Installation is available but only as a condition of obtaining an occupational or restricted license.

 

Second Offense

 

If you’re convicted for a second DUI or DWI charge in Texas, here’s what you could be facing.

 

  1. Fines of up to $4,000.
  2. License Suspension of 180 days to two years, or an immediate two-year suspension if you refuse the BAC test.
  3. Imprisonment lasting from 30 days to a year.
  4. Mandatory IID Installation  of a year with any prior conviction in the last five years.

 

Third Offense

 

If you receive your third DUI charge or conviction in Texas, DUI laws state that you could face any combination of the following penalties.

 

  1. Fines of up to $10,000.
  2. License suspension of 180 days to two years, or an immediate two-year suspension if you refuse the BAC test.
  3. Imprisonment lasting from two to 10 years.
  4. Mandatory IID Installation of a year with any prior conviction in the last five years.

 

 

 

Special Restricted Driver’s Licenses in Texas

 

In Texas, you can obtain an occupational license if you had a BAC level of less than 0.15% and are facing a license suspension. If you’re allowed an occupational license and you are deemed as eligible, you’ll be required to install an ignition interlock device, or IID, in every vehicle you’ll be driving. You must stay in the IID program until you get your license reinstated. In Texas, however, even after you get your license reinstated you may have to pay up to $2,000 to maintain it. Consult your attorney for the most accurate information regarding your case.

IID Installation in Texas

 

If you’ve been convicted of a DUI in Texas and you’re required to install an IID, that installation will be initiated by a court order. Once you have the court order you can go to a state-approved and registered service provider for your IID installation. Depending on your county and unique situation, your court order may require you to have an IID installation that comes with a DMV connection. Only a state-approved and registered service provider will be able to fulfill the court order and help you get back on track.

 

Just because you install an IID doesn’t mean you automatically have your driving privileges back, though. You’ll still have to go through legal proceedings that may or may not require you to obtain a special restricted driver’s license in order to drive. You may be restricted in where you can drive and when, but most programs allow you to go to work, school, and important appointments, such as doctor’s appointments or taking your kids to school.

 

While the information reflected here is current as of this writing, laws do change from time to time and unique circumstances may change the penalties and requirements that you’re subject to.