Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Texas

Getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol is an almost surefire way to end up in the criminal justice system in Texas. Not driving drunk is the only way to ensure that a journey through the criminal justice system because of a DUI or DWI will occur. Drunk driving in Texas has harsh penalties that drivers must consider prior to operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.

Drunk Driving Charges in Texas

The State of Texas has limits for the a driver's blood-alcohol concentration. These limits are the same as in most other states in the country. People who are old enough to legally consume alcohol have a limit of .08 percent. Underage people have a limit of .02 percent. Commercial drivers have a limit of .04 percent.

Drivers in Texas should understand that there is no washout period. That means it doesn't matter how long it has been since a prior drunk driving conviction; that conviction still counts. For this reason, it is imperative for drivers to avoid operating a vehicle after drinking.

First Offense for Drunk Driving -- Misdemeanor

The first time person is convicted of drunk driving, he or she faces a minimum of 72 hours in jail. The court can sentence an individual to up to 180 days in jail for a first offense. A fine of up to $2,000 is possible, but if there was a person under 15 years old in the vehicle, that fine may be more. A license suspension of 90 to 365 days is also imposed.

Second Offense for Drunk Driving -- Misdemeanor

A second conviction on drunk driving charges carries a jail sentence of at least 30 days. That sentence can be increased to one year if the court desires. A fine of up to $4,000 applies, but that amount increases if a child is in the vehicle. A license suspension of 180 days to two years is also imposed.

Third Offense for Drunk Driving -- 3rd Degree Felony

A person convicted of a third drunk driving charge faces a two year minimum jail sentence. That can be increased to up to 10 years. A fine of up to $10,000 is possible. A minimum of two years for the driver's license suspension is required.

"Wet Reckless" Plea Deals Forbidden in Texas

Texas doesn't allow people charged with drunk driving to plead to a "wet reckless" charge. That is, Texas law forbids plea deals that allow a person to plead to reckless driving in lieu of a drunk driving charge. It is sometimes possible to fight drunk driving charges by arguing that the administration of the test was done incorrectly or that the person administering the test wasn't legally able to perform the test.

People who are facing drunk driving charges in Texas must work quickly to determine a defense strategy. Contacting a qualified drunk driving lawyer as quickly as possible might help defendants determine how to defend themselves against these serious charges.

What are the drunk driving laws for Minors in Texas?

In Texas a “minor” is someone under 21 years of age. Generally speaking, a minor may not purchase, attempt to purchase, consume, or even possess an alcoholic beverage. Since a minor should not even possess an alcoholic beverage, the 1997 Texas Legislature adopted a Zero Tolerance policy for minors who commit offenses under the non-driving alcohol-related laws as well as for minors who drive under the influence.

Zero Tolerance means that if a minor has ANY detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system while he or she is operating a motor vehicle the minor driver has committed the criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by a Minor (DUI by a Minor).

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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