If you are accused of driving drunk or intoxicated in Texas you should consult a lawyer for a few very important reasons. Texas is cracking down on their trafficking laws and putting more officers on the streets than there ever has been before. This means that police are not only going to write more tickets, but they are taking more and more people to jail for driving drunk and intoxicated. Intoxication is defined as having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. There are some things that you need to know about charges such as this. First off, a conviction on your record will cost you money, even if it is your first time being convicted of it. With the new law passed in Texas the DPS adds a surcharge of at least $3,000 to $6,000. This is a lot of money to pay the state for a simple drunk or intoxicated driving offense, so you want to make sure that you retain a lawyer in order to make every effort to avoid having something like this on your record.
First Time Offenders
Not only are you surcharged, but you are almost sure to face jail time for this offense. If this is your first offense, jail time can be anywhere from 72 hours to 6 months. You can be slapped with a fine not to exceed $2,000 not to mention your DPS surcharge on top of that. Also you must be mandated to perform community service hours. The judge has to give you at least 24, but cannot give you more than 100 hours of community service. You are subject to license suspension for 90 days to 1 year. You may even be made to install a deep lung air device in your vehicle, attend alcoholic counseling, or even pay restitution if someone is injured due to your drunk driving act. When you are a first time offender, many times there are divert programs that may be available to you, if you are eligible, in order to keep the charge off of your record. There are enhanced penalties in certain situations. If there is an open container in the vehicle the minimum time is 6 days in jail. DWI is a misdemeanor, but can escalate to a felony if a child under the age of 15 years old is a passenger in the vehicle. There are also enhanced penalties when your alcohol level is over .15 or more.
Second Time Offenders
After conviction the second time your license may be suspended for 180 days. Also, as a condition to be released on bond you will have to install the deep lung air device in your vehicle. There is a mandatory jail time penalty that is assessed for those who have been convicted twice or more under the drunk driving statute. So, you are subject to be jailed for at least 72 hours, but no more than 1 year. You are subject to a fine not to exceed $4,000 and will have to perform community service hours ranging from 80 to 200 hours. You may also get your license suspended for 180 days to 2 years.
Third Time Offenders
For your third offense you will be jailed from 2 to 10 years and made to pay a fine not to exceed $10,000. You will face 160 to 600 hours of community service, have to submit to a deep lung air device, have your license suspended for 180 days to 2 years, and be put in a drug and alcohol program.
Texas has passed an implied consent law which basically requires drivers to submit to some sort of test whether it be blood, urine, or chemical. Many people feel the effects of this law on holidays because on those days a person cannot refuse a test for intoxication. This is confusing to many when the officer who is arresting them informs them that they must comply with alcohol content testing. Many times people are afraid, and disjointed, and simply go ahead and test. In all actuality, you can refuse to submit to the test, but implied consent laws strap you with mandatory license suspension.
With all of these factors and consequences surrounding drunk and/or intoxicated driving charges one must be sure that he is fully prepared in his defense. Hiring a lawyer when you are faced with these types of charges is the best thing that you can do for yourself. Always consult a lawyer about the legal ramifications of any predicament that you have gotten yourself into. A lawyer is certified and the best person that you can talk to regarding DUI/DWI charges.
By: Allie Booker
Attorney & Counselor At Law
The Booker Law Firm