Texas DUI 101
Texas DUI laws are in place to keep inebriated drivers off the road in the Lone Star State.
Texas DUI Levels
Under Texas DUI laws, drivers over the age of 21 can be considered legally drunk if their blood alcohol level matches or exceeds .08 percent. On the other hand, drivers under 21 should not be caught driving with any traces of alcohol in their systems. Commercial drivers, including school bus drivers, are not permitted to drive if their blood alcohol level is .04 or higher. In addition, an open alcohol container in the vehicle will result in a $500 fine.
The first time a DUI law is broken, the offender may be penalized with a $2,000 fine, six months in jail and a license suspension of up to a year. In addition, the offender must pay $1,000 each year for the next three years to retain a valid driver’s license. A second offense will lead to a $4,000 fine and a year in jail. For a second offense, a license may be suspended for up to two years and a $1,500 fee must be paid each year for the next three years to maintain a valid license. A third offense can come with a maximum fine of up to $10,000. Two to 10 years in prison may also be served, as well as a license suspension of two years. In addition, $2,000 must be paid each year for the next three years in order to retain a license.
While those are the basic laws, additional penalties may be enforced. For example, a special ignition switch that only operates if the driver’s system is free of alcohol may be installed after multiple drunk driving incidents.
The age and identity of the driver and passengers will also play a role in the sentencing. If a passenger under the age of 15 is present in the vehicle, an additional fine of $10,000 may be imposed, as well as a sentence of up to two years in prison. The driver’s license may also be suspended for up to 180 days.
Commercial drivers who are caught driving under the influence may lose their commercial driving permit for a a year; however, this suspension may be extended if the driver was carrying hazardous cargo. Additional violations will result in permanent loss of commercial driving privileges.
In many cases, a driver with a suspended license should be able to obtain an occupational driver’s license. This license allows the offender to at least drive to and from work, or drive while on the job if necessary. However, a judge may turn down an application for an occupational driver’s license if the driver has broken the Texas DUI laws multiple times in several years.
The state of Texas offers programs for those with a history of drunk driving, including the DWI Education course. The program is usually 12 hours long and focuses on educating drivers on the dangers of alcohol and drug use, especially while on the road. A judge may require offenders to attend the program, which costs about $90.
The best advice possible is to always get a designated driver rather than facing a Texas DUI.