Overview of Texas DWI Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed July 15, 2020
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, someone is hurt or killed in a crash involving alcohol every 20 minutes in Texas. Under Texas law, a person commits a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense when the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. What qualifies as "intoxicated" for purposes of the Texas DWI law? It means not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of those substances, or having a .08 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration).
So, even if your BAC is not at the legal limit, you may be intoxicated if your mental or physical abilities are impaired due to alcohol or other drugs. An officer can determine impairment through a field sobriety test, in addition to a test that measures BAC in breath samples.
Texas DWI Laws at a Glance
|Statute||Texas Penal Code § 49.04, et seq.|
0.08 (.04 for commercial drivers)
|Classification of the Offense||
Class B misdemeanor
|Penalties and Sentences||
Note: Penalties also may include community service, DWI education and treatment programs, mandatory use of ignition interlock device (after 2 or more DWI convictions in 5 years), and increased auto insurance premiums.
Note: State laws are constantly changing - please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Defenses to DWI Charges
Defenses to a DWI charge may include: necessity, duress, or involuntary intoxication. A defense attorney may also attack the legitimacy of the traffic stop, the propriety of the administration or accuracy of any test performed, or other improper police conduct. In Texas, it’s not a defense that the defendant is entitled to use the alcohol or other drugs.
See Defenses to Drunk Driving for general information about defenses.
Facing DWI Charges? Talk to a Texas DWI Attorney
Just because drunk driving is among the most common criminal charges in Texas doesn't mean it's any less serious. In fact, you can face serious jail time, stiff fines, and loss of mobility upon conviction. With such high stakes, it makes sense to get help from a legal professional. Get started today by contacting an experienced Texas DWI attorney near you.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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