Alcohol and drug-related traffic offenses, commonly known as driving while intoxicated (DWI), are frequently prosecuted criminal offenses in Texas. They are also subject to administrative penalties. If the alcohol concentration in a person’s blood, breath or urine is .08 percent or higher, the person is considered intoxicated by law.
With some circumstances under the Texas DWI laws, the legal definition of intoxication is met even if a person’s alcohol concentration is lower than .08 percent. Having alcohol, a drug or a controlled substance in one’s body that causes loss of normal use of mental or physical faculties also is considered intoxication. If the person is operating a vehicle, vessel or even water skis in a public place, he or she is considered to be driving while intoxicated, which is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. Boating or operating an aircraft while intoxicated also are crimes in Texas.
The minimum amount of jail time in Texas for driving while intoxicated is 72 hours unless there is an open container of alcohol in the person’s possession, in which case the jail time is at least six days. Consuming any amount of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle also is an offense in Texas.
In addition to jail time, a person who is convicted of Texas DWI the first time will have his or her driver’s license suspended for 90 days to one year. Even if there is no conviction, the positive indication of alcohol from a blood, breath or urine test will result in automatic suspension of the person’s driver’s license. The person also may be required to complete an alcohol education program for those who have operated motor vehicles while intoxicated. A person who fails to complete such a program when sentenced to do so may lose his or her license. A subsequent DWI conviction will result in driver’s license suspension for another 18 months. In order to get the license back after the suspension period is over, the person must pay $125. Additionally if convicted of DWI you will be enrolled in the Texas Surcharge Program.
Refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test in Texas also carries penalties. If an officer has reason to believe that a person is driving while intoxicated, and the driver refuses to submit to a test, the person’s driver’s license will be automatically suspended for a minimum of 90 days if the person is 21 years of age or older, and for at least one year if the person is under 21. The period of license suspension increases with every subsequent test that shows an alcohol concentration above the legal limit, and with each time a person refuses to submit to alcohol testing. For example, if a person refuses to be tested for intoxication and there has been an alcohol or drug-related conviction or license suspension within the previous five years, the person will lose his or her license automatically for one year. Under any circumstances, however, the person is entitled to a hearing.