How strict are Texas first offense DWI laws? While minimum penalties are on par with the rest of the country, the maximum penalties are rather significant. In addition, Texas does not offer a “washout” period for DUI convictions as is offered by most other states in the country.
Texas DUI by the Numbers (based on 2012 overall numbers)
The organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) posted that Texas actually led the country in 2013 for drunk driver fatalities. Whereas many states are showing a decline, Texas actually had an increase of 3.6 percent from its 2012 numbers.
• 85,436 total DUI arrests (146 from under-18 drivers)
• 592 total alcohol-related fatalities (27 from under-21 drivers)
• 26.2 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities
• 42.7 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities for under-21 drivers
• 71.9 percent of fatalities involved a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15+
• 66.7 percent of repeat offenders had a BAC of .15+
DUI First Offense Penalties in Texas
As stated above, first time offenders are facing rather high maximums for DUI convictions, especially as they are related to future offense. While there is an escalation for repeat offenders, it is not quite as significant for jail and license suspensions as it is in other states. Below are the fines and penalties as of this writing:
• Monetary fines up to $2,000 (except when a child under the age of 15 is in the car)
• No ignition interlock device (IID) required for first time violations
• Minimum 3-day jail sentence with a maximum of 180 days
• License suspension ranging from 90 days to one year
Texas is an implied consent state. For refusing to take chemical tests, you will face a 180-day suspension of your license. This suspension must be served regardless if you win your case in court. Second and third time offenders that refuse to take the test will have a mandatory two-year suspension.
As stated above, Texas does not have a washout period for future violations. Your DUI arrests are permanently on your record in terms of future sentencing.
Should You Hire a DUI Attorney if Arrested and Charged in Texas?
There is a lot of pressure on Texas from outside organizations like MADD to improve legislation for DUI offenders. With the fatality rate actually increasing from 2012 to 2013, drivers can expect authorities to look for and prosecute DUI violations vigorously and offer very little lenience in the courtroom. If arrested for DUI in Texas, you can use FightDUICharges.com as a resource to have your case evaluated free as well as being able to find a Texas DUI attorney.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.