Texas DWI Law

Laws and penalties for DWI in Texas.

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In Texas, you can get a DWI (also known as driving while intoxicated or drunk driving) if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired. And the law in Texas says that if you are driving a vehicle, you have given consent to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol in your blood. Here are some details on the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test in Texas and other details about Texas DWI law.

In Texas, what are the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test (usually a breathalyzer or blood test) when suspected of DWI?

Here are the consequences for not taking a breathalyzer or blood test in Texas, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

180 day license suspension

2 year license suspension

2 year license suspension

In Texas, when do police have to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC)?

In Texas, law enforcement officers are supposed to measure your BAC at the time of driving. However, prosecutors may be able to prove your culpability for DWI even if your BAC is taken later than this time.

What is the maximum BAC for drivers under 21 in Texas?

In Texas, the maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers who are under 21 (considered minors under some drinking and driving laws) is 0%. Texas is a "zero tolerance" state.

What are the minimum jail times for a DWI in Texas?

Here are the minimum jail times for a DWI in Texas, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

3 days

30 days

2 years

How long will prior DWI convictions remain relevant for sentencing purposes in Texas?

In Texas, prior DWI convictions stay on your record (and can be counted against you when you are being sentenced for another DUI/DWI offense) for good. Note that an earlier version of this law had a 10-year limitation, but even if a defendant's prior convictions occurred when the prior version of the law was in effect, prior convictions can still be used under the current law. Sepeda v. State 280 S.W.3d 398 (2008).

Can a DWI be “pleaded down” to a "wet reckless" in Texas?

No, a plea bargain for a conviction of "wet reckless" (reckless driving involving alcohol) is barred by statute in Texas. If you are interested in contacting a lawyer for assessing your options, you can find a DWI lawyer in your area in Nolo's Lawyer Directory.

Are ignition interlock devices (IIDs) required for convicted DWI offenders in Texas?

An IID is required for a second offense within 5 years.

Where can I get more information about DWI laws in Texas?

Nolo's DUI/DWI topic has many helpful articles, including a Drunk Driving, DUI, and DWI FAQ. For more help after a DWI arrest, see Nolo's Lawyer Directory, where you can view in-depth profiles of Texas DWI attorneys in your area.

Last updated on 09/01/2010.

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