Being found to be driving under the influence in Texas does not require that a driver meet the blood alcohol level of 0.08% that defines intoxication. In Texas, you are driving under the influence and breaking the law any time drugs or alcohol affect your ability to drive – or your ability to operate a boat or plane. Once a driver crosses that threshold into driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence for a minor (DUI), the consequences can be meaningful.
What are the standard 1st time DUI penalties?
A first time DUI with none of the potential aggravating factors discussed below features the following penalties:
Fine of up to $2,000
Up to 180 days in jail with a minimum of three days
Loss of driver’s license for up to a year
State fine of $3,000, $4,500 or $6.000 assessed at sentencing
What if there is a child in the vehicle?
Regardless of whether this is a first time DUI, having one or more children in the vehicle when the DUI occurs means:
Charge of child endangerment
An additional fine of up to $10,000
Jail time of up to two years
Further 180 days of loss of license
You may also face a civil Child Protective Services case, which could result in loss of custody.
What if the driver is under 21 years old?
The charge for a driver under 21 is "driving under the influence of alcohol" (DUI or DUIA). The legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol level is not required since Texas is a zero-tolerance state for minors and alcohol. DUI is a class "C" misdemeanor that carries a maximum $500 fine for the ticket. The driver's license will be suspended at arrest or citation, with a further suspension imposed upon conviction. A minor who meets the blood-alcohol standard for DWI can also be charged with that offense.
What will the state have to prove for a conviction?
DWI arrests are often made without alcohol or illegal or prescription drugs found in the driver's system. The charge does not require a breath test. To prove DWI, the state must show that the driver met one of the following conditions:
Had a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher
Did not possess normal mental faculties or
Did not have normal physical capacities due to alcohol or drugs
Is a breath or blood test mandatory?
A driver has the technical right to refuse to take a blood or breath test, but the consequences of doing so can be severe. When a driver refuses, the state will seek to suspend the driver’s license of a first-time offender for up to 180 days. The refusal can also be entered as evidence against the driver at trial. There is no Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination regarding a breath or blood test.
What if the driver fails the breath or blood test?
A first-time DUI driver who fails a test by having a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher will receive a license suspension of 90 days. The failed test also gives the state the data necessary to convict the driver and impose the applicable sanctions.
Call Us Today to Speak with a DUI Defense Lawyer in Killeen
Driving under the influence is a serious charge with significant penalties and long-lasting consequences on a driver's personal and professional life. Brett Pritchard, a Killeen attorney with substantial experience in assisting drivers charged with DUI, can help you find your way through the system and help you obtain the best possible result. Call 254-501-4040 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.