legal alcohol limit

DWI Law: What’s the Legal Alcohol Limit in Texas?

A staggering 1,468 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Texas in 2017.

It’s never a good idea to risk getting behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. Each person is different in their tolerance of alcohol, and things like how much food you’ve eaten can determine the effects it has on you.

At a certain blood alcohol level, you’re considered impaired to drive or handle machinery. This can ultimately come down to a number of factors, some might surprise you.

Read on to learn the legal alcohol limit and what other factors can result in a DWI arrest.

Know the Laws

Texas’ state law prohibits you from operating a motor vehicle with a .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher. 

Reaching this level of BAC can depend on a number of factors. Your height, gender, weight, along with the number of drinks and their strength can affect your BAC differently.

Intoxication doesn’t just refer to alcohol. You can be intoxicated regardless of your BAC if you are impaired due to other drugs. If you are a passenger you can also be fined up to $500 if there is an open container in the vehicle.

There are additional restrictions that you should consider before getting behind the wheel. In Texas, the term “operating” is used to refer to a broad range of functioning a vehicle. In some cases, you don’t even need to be driving in order to be charged with a DWI.

There is a zero tolerance policy for anyone under the age of 21 to be driving with any detectable trace of alcohol in their system. This means that regardless of your BAC if you are under the legal drinking age you will be prosecuted.

Legal Alcohol Limit Isn’t the Only Factor

Even if your blood does not meet the .08% BAC, you can still be charged with a DWI. This is because your level of intoxication is at the discretion of the police officer.

For example, you may be below the BAC but show signs of intoxication in which you show signs of impairment as a result of drug, alcohol, or any other substance. According to Texas state law, this would be enough for you to be charged with a DWI.

When a drunk driver is arrested based on the BAC, it is considered a “per se” DWI. This is opposed to being charged based on your level of impairment.

It’s dangerous to drive while impaired and you can put many lives at risk. If you are driving with children in the car while impaired, there are further penalties. If you have passengers that are younger than 15 years old, then you could be charged with child endangerment.

This would result in a fine of $10,000 and up to two years in jail. You may also lose your license for up to 180 days.

What if You Refuse a Breath Test?

When you get pulled over the police officer might ask you to take a breathalyzer or a blood test to determine what your BAC is. Texas’ “implied consent” law says that all drivers who are lawfully arrested for a DWI must take a blood or breath test. If you refuse to take one of these tests there are repercussions.

You can expect to have your license suspended for 180 days if this is your first offense. If it is your second or third, your license can be suspended up to two years. These multiple offenses are based on past convictions, refused tests, and failed BAC tests.

Any offenses within the past ten years would count as an offense. No matter how many offenses you may or may not have, it’s always a good idea to avoid driving no matter what your BAC is. 

One offense can stay on your record for a long time. The penalties for being convicted of a DWI in Texas can vary depending on other convictions you’ve had throughout your life. It will also depend on the circumstances of your particular case.

What Are the Penalties?

If it is your first offense, then you could face 72 hours to six months of jail time. If your BAC reaches a .15% or more, you could get up to 12 months of jail time! You may also face some hefty fines.

Fines could be up to $2,000. If your BAC is .15% or more, you can expect up to $4,000 in fines. But the penalties are worse if this isn’t your first offense.

For a second offense, you could face between 30 days or up to one year in prison. If this is your third offense then it is between two to ten years in prison. Fines are up to $4,000 for a second offense and up to $10,000 for a third. 

Furthermore, you will also have your license suspended. This can affect your daily routine including getting to and from work. For your first offense, you can lose your license between 90 days and 12 months. 

Your second or third offense may have you lose your license for up to two years, but at least 180 days.

What Is an IID?

Lastly, you can also be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) placed in your car.

This device is a breath tester that is connected to your car’s ignition system. It requires you to take a breath test before being able to start your car. If your breath is alcohol-free, then your car will start. 

You may be required to put an IID in your car after your first offense if you obtain a restricted license. This type of license will allow you to drive your vehicle but to a limited number of places. For example, if you could lose your job or flunk out of school without a license, you may be allowed to drive under strict rules.

If it is your second or third offense, you could be required to have an IID in your car for as long as two years. The specific requirements of having an IID will depend on your case.

The installation of an IID can cost you between $50-$150 and the constant maintenance plus lease is within that range as well. To get it removed again will cost another $50 to $150. 

Are You Facing Charges?

If you get caught driving with over the legal alcohol limit in Texas, then you could be facing serious charges. No one wants to make a mistake like driving under the influence, but if you already find yourself in this situation then you need professionals to help you through.

If your seeking expert advice for your situation, we can help! Contact us for assistance with your DWI.