An estimated 32 people die every day from drunk driving, including those responsible for the DUI offense and innocent bystanders or passengers. That's why the drunk driving laws in Texas are no joke and carry significant penalties like jail time, hefty fines, and more. If you were levied with drunk driving charges or were the victim of a drunk driver, it's essential to understand the state's drunk driving laws.
Each state has its own legal intoxication limits that adhere to or are stricter than the federal limits. In Texas, any driver over 21 with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or above is considered legally intoxicated, which adheres to federal law limitations. Anyone driving with a BAC of 0.15 or above faces more serious charges and consequences.
The legal intoxication BAC may be 0.08 for everyone who can legally drink, but it's a lot stricter for those who are still underage. Texas is one of several states with a "zero tolerance" law for drivers under the legal drinking age that states a 0.02 BAC or above is legally intoxicated if the person is under 21.
DUI penalties increase with repeat offenses. For example, a first offense is punishable with a fine of up to $2,000 and the loss of a driver's license for up to one year. Additionally, first offenders are required to spend at least three days in jail but could be sentenced to up to 180 days of incarceration.
However, those penalties significantly increase by the third offense. A three-time DUI offender faces between two and ten years in prison, losing their license for up to two years, and a $10,000 fine.
Driving under the influence is always a serious crime, but it becomes even more so when it involves underage passengers. If any underage passengers are younger than fifteen, you'll be charged with child endangerment.
In Texas, child endangerment is considered a felony with penalties ranging from two years in jail to up to twenty years in prison. There may also be fines, and other penalties levied against anyone charged with child endangerment, with the severity of the punishment depends on how severe the courts deem the endangerment.
Besides child endangerment, someone who faces a DUI involving an underage passenger will also be charged for the DUI offense. The penalties for this might include the following:
The penalties associated with child endangerment and drunk driving are accumulative, meaning that being charged with both will generally result in at least four years of imprisonment.
Drunk driving laws can be confusing, especially if you're on either side of a drunk driving lawsuit. If you need more assistance understanding the drunk driving laws in Texas, don't hesitate to reach out with your questions or concerns.
Our team of qualified legal professionals can also schedule a free case review if desired.