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New Texas law changes DWI consequences

You are driving home for the evening and see flashing lights in your rear view mirror. You feel a sinking feeling in your stomach. Have you had one too many drinks? Could you face a DWI charge?

If you are like many people pulled over for DWI, you are generally law-abiding. You may be wondering: What happens next? Could I lose my license? Am I going to jail? How much is this all going to cost me?

You are right to ask those questions. There are a variety of consequences for DWI offenses depending on your BAC (blood alcohol content), the number of previous offenses you have had, and other factors like having a child present in the vehicle.

DWI laws also change. A recent law change went into effect in Texas on September 1st 2015. This law actually gives first-time DWI offenders a new option for retaining their driving privileges.

Now if a driver's BAC was less than .15 percent (the legal limit is .08) he or she can opt for having an ignition interlock system installed in his or her vehicle which allows the individual to continue to drive. Previously drivers in this situation would be subject to a license suspension, although judges could make exceptions.

An ignition interlock device prevents drivers from starting their vehicles if there is any traceable alcohol detected in their breath. There are also rolling retests where the driver has six minutes to pull off the road and retest.

Besides driving restrictions, here is a breakdown of some of the consequences you may face if convicted of DWI in Texas:

First offense/Class B misdemeanor

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to $2,000 fine

Second offense/Class A misdemeanor

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to $4,000 fine

Felony DWI

You may be charged with a felony DWI for different reasons. You may have had two prior convictions or be charged with DWI with a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle. In both of these cases, you will face a fine up to $10,000. For DWI with a child passenger you face up to two years in jail, and for a third offense you will face up to 10 years in prison.

What options do I have?

With the potential for such severe consequences, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you are facing DWI charges. A lawyer can advise you of your options and advocate on your behalf.

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