Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, regardless of whether or not you “feel” intoxicated, is a severe and significant danger to public safety as well as a crime. Despite the volumes of research written about the risks of driving under the influence as well as the inordinate amount of deaths that have been caused by doing so, drivers continue to drink and drive, somehow believing that adverse consequences will not happen to them, until they do.
The Texas Department of Transportation reports that vehicular crashes involving one or more individuals who meet the legal limit for intoxication occur every 20 minutes. The simplest solution to this problem, of course, is for individuals to stop getting behind the wheel after imbibing any amount of alcohol. Law Office of Scott D. Reiner, PLLC is here to guide you, however, if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
While factors independent of both drunkenness and driving play important roles in this offense, it is important to know how Texas law identifies each one of these terms.
First and foremost, “driving while intoxicated” means that you have been caught operating a motor vehicle with the presence of alcohol in your system. In essence, if the car is moving and you are operating it, you may be charged with a DWI.
Proving intoxication often relies on a breathalyzer test. After you are pulled over, your blood alcohol level, or BAC, will be measured by this device. If your BAC level is higher than allowable by law, you will be charged. In Texas, BAC limits are as follows:
- If you are 21 or older, your BAC must be lower than 0.08%.
- A permissible BAC level for commercial drivers can be no more than 0.04%.
- In drivers under the age of 21, ANY amount of detectable alcohol is in violation of the law.
The best rule to follow is this: no matter your age, gender, years of driving experience, or the type of vehicle you are operating, never drink any amount of any alcohol before you get behind the wheel. If you do, make sure a designated driver can get you to your destination safely, sleep at a friend’s house until the alcohol has left your system, or take a cab home. These are not only ways to protect yourself and others, but methods to avoid legal consequences.
The legal ramifications of driving while under the influence are multi-layered and varied. If you are found to have been driving under the influence with a child in the car who is younger than 15 years of age, you may be subject to fines up to $10,000. In addition, you may lose your license for at least six months and spend a year or two in the state penitentiary.
If this is the first time you are pulled over for suspicion of driving drunk, penalties can include fines up to $2,000, up to six months in jail, a revocation of your driver’s license for at least a year, and the payment of at least $1,000 annually for the first three years after your license has been restored.
Second offense DWI punishments are more severe and the fines are more expensive. You may be required to pay a fine of $4,000 at the outset, may spend up to 12 months in jail, lose your license for 24 months, and pay up to $5,000 annually as a license maintenance fee.
As you can imagine, the consequences for a third DWI are the most stringent of all. These penalties include fines of $10,000, anywhere from two to ten years in jail, the loss of your license for at least two years, annual fees in order to keep your license once it is returned, and the installation of an ignition switch that prevents you from driving while under the influence.
If you are ever pulled over, you must have your license, registration, and insurance papers ready to present to the police. You are not required to submit to a breathalyzer test, even though refusal to do so will get your license suspended automatically for six months.
While there is never a good reason to drive drunk, we understand that people sometimes do. They need legal representation that will guide them through the process toward better personal and legal decision-making skills. If you have been charged with any type of DWI in Houston, Texas or the surrounding areas, please call Law Office of Scott D. Reiner today. Things may get messy, but we are here to help you clean them up.