Driving while impaired is not only dangerous but also illegal in the State of Texas. If you regularly consume alcoholic beverages and own a motor vehicle, you need to understand blood alcohol concentration (BAC) laws in Texas.
If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense, do not hesitate to contact a Florence criminal lawyer to discuss potential defense strategies.
What is Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)?
The term “BAC,” which stands for blood alcohol concentration, is a legal term used to describe alcohol concentration in a driver’s blood. BAC refers to the number of grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
Several sections of the Texas Penal Code specify the legal threshold for BAC. If a driver’s blood alcohol content exceeds the legal threshold, he or she can be charged with driving while impaired (DWI) or any other drunk driving offense.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01, a driver is considered “intoxicated” when their blood alcohol concentration exceeds .08%, which is the legal BAC threshold in most states.
However, the blood concentration in your blood does not necessarily need to be over .08% for you to be considered “intoxicated” and charged with a drunk driving offense.
Under Texas law, a motorist is also considered “intoxicated” when they do not have “the normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to consumption or introduction of controlled substances, illegal drugs, alcohol, or a combination of these substances, into the body.
Note: Texas law requires persons to be at least 21 to legally consume alcoholic beverages. If you have not reached the legal drinking age and get arrested for impaired driving, you will be charged with an additional criminal offense known as “underage drinking.”
What Happens if I Get Arrested with a BAC of .08% or Higher?
Getting arrested for drunk driving because your BAC is .08% or higher is a Class B misdemeanor. If this is your first offense, the penalties for drunk driving with a BAC of .08% or higher include:
At least 72 hours but no more than 180 days in jail;
A fine of up to $2,000;
A suspension of a driver’s license suspension for up to a year (the mandatory minimum suspension is 90 days); and
An additional $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years to retain a driver’s license.
What Happens if I Get Arrested with a BAC of .15% or Higher?
You will face harsher penalties if you have a higher concentration of alcohol in your blood while operating a motor vehicle. If you get arrested for drunk driving with a BAC of .15% or higher, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor in Texas.
The same charge applies to second-time offenders caught with a BAC of between .08% and .15%. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor are as follows:
Up to $4,000 in fines
A maximum of one year in jail
A suspension of the driver’s license for up to 18 months
Getting arrested for DWI a third time is charged as a first-degree felony under the Texas Penal Code. The punishment includes up to 10 years in jail and a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
Can BAC Tests Be Inaccurate?
Yes, BAC tests may show a false positive reading. In some DWI cases, the defense hinges on the accuracy of the BAC test. Thus, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you challenge the accuracy of the BAC test and get the drunk driving charges dismissed.
Often, BAC tests show inaccurate results because they are administered by officers who are not trained on the specific device used. In other cases, a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer attorney can prove that the BAC test results are unreliable because officers used a poorly maintained device.
Many police officers in Texas use Breathalyzers to estimate a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. It is not uncommon for courts to invalidate BAC test results due to incorrect administration, human error, device defects, and insufficient training.
Thus, if you get arrested for drunk driving because a Breathalyzer or another BAC testing device showed a positive reading, you may still be able to get the DWI charges dismissed by challenging the accuracy of the BAC test.
How to Challenge the Accuracy of the BAC Test?
There are several grounds to challenge the accuracy of the blood alcohol test and ask the court to throw out BAC test results from your DWI case in Texas. Common grounds to challenge the accuracy of the BAC test include:
The arresting police officers used expired equipment to administer the test;
The BAC testing device was defective;
The blood alcohol test showed a false positive reading due to chemicals or cigarette smoke in the air;
A driver had recently used mouthwash, breath freshener, or alcohol-containing medicine before the BAC test, which resulted in an incorrect reading;
A driver’s body was in ketosis when the test was administered (ketones are a dangerous byproduct of ketosis with a chemical structure similar to alcohol);
The BAC testing device was improperly calibrated before the test;
The police officer failed to administer the test properly;
The officer failed to refrigerate a blood sample or seal it properly; or
The officer violated any other protocols when collecting or handling blood samples for a BAC test.
Speak with a skilled DWI defense attorney to determine if you can challenge the accuracy of the BAC test in your specific situation.
Consult with a Florence Criminal Lawyer Today
If you have been arrested for driving while impaired because a blood alcohol test showed a BAC of .08% or higher, contact a criminal lawyer to help you get the drunk driving charges dismissed.
At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our Florence criminal lawyers represent individuals facing DWI and other drunk driving charges throughout Texas.
Speak with our attorneys to identify the best defense strategy for DWI charges in your case. Call 254-501-4040 for a case review.