The severity of a Driver Under the Influence charge in any state is clear. Such a charge could lead a person to lose their license, face jail time, or worse. While most people do not have to deal with this onerous charge, thousands still commit the crime or are accused of it every year.
When they are accused, they need to know the laws in their state and their rights. As one of the largest states in the country, Texas handles thousands of these cases every year. The state has a clear set of laws that provide for procedures to prove intoxication, face punishment, and receive privileges back.
What Is the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit?
DUI refers to Driving Under the Influence, particularly of alcohol. A police officer often initiates a DUI stop by pulling over a driver who is driving erratically. The erratic driving provides enough probable cause to allow the officer to pull over the vehicle. Then, the officer makes a determination of the intoxicated nature of the individual. He or she is authorized to perform a field sobriety test and a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test.
The BAC is the most authoritative test and the most objective required by law. A person who blows a .08 or above on a BAC and is above the age of 21 will be arrested for DUI. The same is true for commercially-licensed drivers who blow above a .04 and drivers under the age of 21 who blow above a .00.
What Happens If I get Pulled Over?
DUI arrests are like any other arrests. According to DUI laws in Texas, you will be read your Miranda rights and will have the ability to consult counsel. You also have the right to a speedy trial and the right to a jury trial if the offense is serious enough. In addition, you have the right to due process. That means that any evidence associated with your case has to be handled properly with a clear chain of command. Evidence can include your BAC test and any written results of a field sobriety test. If not, the doubt that results from such constitutional mistakes could lead to your case being thrown out.
Can I Refuse the BAC Test?
You can refuse the BAC Test. It is a bodily test and you cannot be forced to hand over those bodily fluids without your consent. However, this violates Texas chemical test and implied consent laws, and is strongly advised against by every legal professional.
What Happens If I Refuse It?
DUI laws in Texas state that a driver can immediately be arrested for DUI if they fail to submit to a BAC test. They can be sentenced to a 90-day license suspension and three days in jail. Drivers also have to request a hearing in order to get their license back within 15 days.
Can I Plead “Wet Reckless”?
“Wet Reckless” is a lesser charge that some states allow defendants to plead to in order to avoid the more serious penalties associated with DUI. DUI laws in Texas ban wet reckless pleas. However, they do allow defendants to bargain for a lower sentence under the DUI conviction.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
After arrest and arraignment, a judge usually decides a DUI case. He or she will look at the merits of the case, criminal history, and the presentations of both sides. They will rely on that information to make rulings on guilt and sentence for the defendant. DUI laws in Texas mandate that a set number of punishments are offered for every DUI offense. Each subsequent DUI arrest also increases the chances that a person will receive a stiffer fine, more jail time, or other restrictions on their ability to drive a car.
There is also the chance of an ignition lock being placed on the violator’s vehicle for a particular period of time. Ignition locks require a violator to perform a BAC test just to start their car. Eventually, a judge may require the permanent suspension of a violator’s license after a certain amount of DUI violations.
First Offense DUI
A first offense DUI comes with numerous possible penalties. The charge is punishable with up to a $2,000 fine, jail time between 3 and 180 days, a license suspension for up to 2 years, and possible ignition lock and driver reeducation stipulations attached.
Second Offense DUI
A second offense DUI comes with up to a $4,000 fine, between a month and a year of jail time, a two year license suspension, a $2,000 annual surcharge for up to three years, and possible reeducation courses and an ignition lock requirement.
Third Offense DUI
DUI laws in Texas state that a third offense DUI is even more serious than the previous offenses. Consequently, this DUI can come with up to a $10,000 fine, between two and ten years in state prison, a two-year license suspension, a $2,000 surcharge for ten years, and almost certain education and ignition lock provisions.
Fourth Offense DUI
The fourth offense DUI comes with the same penalties as the third offense DUI. In addition, it may also involve permanent suspension of a license. Penalties will only increase with each subsequent DUI.
Arrested? Know Your Options
Once you are arrested for DUI and are released, weigh your options. You will be assigned a court date and it is imperative that you are prepared. Review the facts of your case and, if you decide to, seek outside help as soon as possible. A lawyer will not be able to review your case if you only consult them the day before a court date. Make sure to leave you and your counsel plenty of time to review DUI laws in Texas and the circumstances of your case before proceeding. Adequate representation is important for the law to work properly and for you to be fairly treated by the justice system.