What are the penalties for drinking and driving in Texas?

The severity of the penalties drivers pulled over for drunk driving face in Texas depend on prior DWI convictions on their record.

The rate at which a person's blood alcohol concentration level rises after consuming alcohol depends on many factors, such as gender, body weight and the number of drinks consumed. Despite the many factors that affect this measurement, in Texas and in all other states in the country, it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with a BAC level at or above 0.08, states the Governors Highway Safety Association. When drivers exceed the legal BAC level limit, they are subject to certain penalties. However, the severity of the penalties they face depend on the number of DWI convictions already on their record.

First offense

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, drivers who commit their first DWI may have to pay a fine of up to $2,000 and spend anywhere from three to 180 days in jail. Following this type of conviction, drivers may also lose their driver's license for up to a year, and have to pay an annual fee of either $1,000 or $2,000 if they want to retain their license for three years.

Second offense

The TDOT states that when drivers receive their second DWI, they may have to spend anywhere from a month to a year in jail and pay a fine of up to $4,000. Drivers who commit their second DUI may also lose their driver's license for up to two years. When their license is reinstated, drivers may have to pay a fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 every year for up to three years to keep their license.

Additionally, drivers who are convicted for drunk driving two times within a five-year period may have to install a special ignition switch in their vehicle. These devices prevent a vehicle from being turned on if the driver has been drinking.

Third offense

Drivers who commit three DWI offenses may be required to pay a $10,000 fine and spend anywhere from two to 10 years in prison. A third DWI offense also comes with a two-year license suspension penalty. When drivers are able to retain their license, they may have to pay $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 every year for three years if they wish to maintain their right to drive. Additionally, the same ignition interlock requirements that apply to drivers who commit their second DWI offense apply to third-time DWI offenders.

First, second or third-time DWI offenders in Texas may have concerns about how a potential conviction could affect them legally and financially. In this situation, those who were pulled over for driving under the influence may benefit from seeking the legal guidance of an attorney in their area.