One of the most widely known and charged offense across the United States, including Texas, is driving while intoxicated (“DWI”). Under Texas Law, an individual is charged with a DWI when he or she, while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, operates a motor vehicle. Even if you are sleeping in a parked motor vehicle, you could still be charged with a DWI. DWI charges carry hefty penalties, fines, and even significant jail time. It is important that you understand the consequences of drinking and driving, as well as relevant DWI laws in Texas.
Texas law indicates that a person commits a DWI when he or she is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. The law defines “intoxicated” in two separate ways: 1) having a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more, or 2) not having the normal use of your mental and physical faculties due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol. For drivers under 21, any detectable amount of alcohol in their blood subjects them to a DWI.
It isn’t okay to drink and drive, but anyone in Texas who does drink should remember these five laws that govern DWI in the state in case they find themselves in a tight spot:
- Under Texas diw law, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you were violating the law to stop you and requires probable cause that you are intoxicated prior to an arrest.
- The arresting officer must provide you with a notice of suspension of your license. Texas law requires it. You have 15 days from the date the notice was served to request a hearing to contest the suspension or your license will be automatically be suspended for 90 or 180 days, depending on the circumstances of your case.
- At the administrative hearing with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Department must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that: Ø There was reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle or probable cause to arrest you; Ø You were operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated; Ø You were placed under arrest and offered an opportunity to perform the breathalyzer or to give blood; Ø You refused to take the breathalyzer or refused to give blood to the officer; or Ø You failed a breath or blood test by registering an alcohol concentration of . 08 or greater.
- Texas law has stiff penalties for first, second and third time offenders. You could face up to $10,000 in fines, 10 years in prison, and your license could be suspended for up to two years.
- The prosecution has to prove that you operated a motor vehicle, were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, were in a public place, and were in the state of Texas on the date of your arrest.
The understanding of these laws will be crucial for anyone incriminated on the basis of DWI as to protect yourself. Knowing your rights and understanding what qualifies as a DWI in Texas will help you make the right decisions, even if you are caught on criminal charges.