Texas drinking and driving laws are strict to protect the public and keep roads safe.
Between 2003 and 2012, over 13,000 people were killed due to drunk drivers throughout the Longhorn state, with 2.1% of Texas’s population admitting to driving after drinking too much. This is higher than the national average of 1.9%.
Whether you’re operating a vehicle or riding a horse while intoxicated, it’s vital you understand Texas DWI laws. Be aware of what you can (and can’t) do when a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence.
1. What Is Considered a DWI in Texas?
In Texas, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. The state defines intoxicated as not being able to utilize mental or physical faculties due to external substances. This refers to alcohol, drugs (recreational or prescription), or a combination of the two.
A DWI is issued when a person is found guilty of operating a motor vehicle in public. If given a breathalyzer test, the guilty party should have above 0.08% alcohol concentration in their blood. If you are a commercial driver, your BAC limit is 0.04%.
For those who are 21 and older, DWI penalties include:
- A $2,000 fine
- Up to 180 days of jail time
- An ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle
- DWI education program
- Up to two years license suspension
- An increase in their annual license fee
For minors, Texas has a Zero Tolerance Law in regards to drinking and driving. Anyone under 18 found operating a vehicle under the influence will have his or her license suspended for up to one year and must participate in a 12-hour Alcohol Education Program. The guilty party will also receive mandated community service, an ignition interlock device on his or her car, and up to a $500 fine.
2. What Signs Do Police Officers Look for in a DWI Charge?
Police officers in Texas know how to spot intoxicated drivers out on the road. As long as a cop has probable cause, he or she can pull you over.
Texas police officers use the following as evidence to stop a vehicle and evaluate the driver’s intoxication level:
- Swerving or drifting out of your lane
- Hugging the center lane marker
- Driving 10 mph under the speed limit
- Braking erratically
- Driving in the wrong lane
- Making wide or illegal turns
- Stopping inappropriately
- Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
- Running stop signs or traffic lights
- Using the wrong turning signals or forgetting to use a turning signal
- Delayed response to traffic signals
- Forgetting to turn your headlights on
Speeding is not commonly used to determine if someone is intoxicated behind the wheel. While a police officer may issue you a speeding ticket, most cops look for delayed traffic reactions as a reason to believe a person is driving under the influence.
3. Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
If a Texas police officer pulls you over for a traffic violation, the cop must first treat the incident like normal. He or she will ask you for your license and registration. If the police officer has reason to believe you are under the influence (such as smelling alcohol in your vehicle), he or she will ask if you have been drinking.
If the officer asks you to get out of the car and perform a field sobriety test, you must oblige. All drivers in Texas must consent to blood and breath tests that test for impairment. If you refuse, you risk receiving an Administrative License Revocation (ALR).
Learn More About Texas DWI Laws
Texas DWI laws are strict and present hefty consequences to those who violate them. A DWI is expensive and may even result in jail time if you don’t have the right lawyer assisting you with your case.
If you’re facing a DWI, make sure you have San Antonio’s best criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact the Law Office of Roland J. Garcia to learn more about how we can assist you with your DWI offense. Click here to get in touch with us now.