Overview of Texas DWI Law
Have you or a loved one been arrested for DWI or driving while intoxicated? If so, you should quickly become familiar with Texas DWI law so you can better understand the legal processes you face. Your rights to drive can be determined by these processes starting within 15 days of your arrest, so it is very important to talk to an experienced Texas DWI lawyer as soon as possible.
Attorney Nathan Wood is a former Assistant District Attorney, and he’s very experienced in DWI law. He’s currently serving as an Assistant District Attorney in College Station, Texas.
Call 800-929-1725 for an appointment with one of our other competent and capable DWI attorneys. Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick has offices in Wharton and El Campo in Wharton County and in Richmond in Fort Bend County.
DWI is a very serious charge so don’t delay in getting the experienced help you need to navigate the legal processes you face.
Summary of the Texas DWI Law Video
Hello, my name is Nathan Wood. I’m an associate with the law firm of Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick. Today, I’m going to talk to you a little bit about an overview of Texas DWI laws.
Not surprisingly, when a person gets arrested for DWI or a loved one gets arrested for DWI, there is a lot of fear and anxiety that’s associated with that event. Many people don’t understand the law. Many people aren’t used to being involved in the criminal justice system, and so it’s useful to have an idea of what you’re dealing with.
So under Texas law, driving while intoxicated occurs when a person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Unlike most crimes, DWI does not have a mental state that you have to have when you commit the offense. In other words, a person can commit a DWI without ever intending to commit a DWI. There are equivalent criminal laws that deal with operating a boat or a watercraft or an aircraft also while intoxicated, but they all function in similar ways as driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
What’s the Difference in Texas between DWI and DUI
There’s a lot of confusion in Texas when it comes to the terms DWI and DUI. DUI is a separate criminal offense that applies to minors only and refers to a minor operating a motor vehicle or a watercraft with any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system, and that is a Class C misdemeanor, and it can result in some criminal penalties that are generally less severe than a DWI. A DWI is what many states refer to as DUI, and that’s what causes some of the confusion. What is called DUI in Colorado is DWI in Texas.
What’s the Definition of Intoxication in Texas
So how does a person become intoxicated under Texas DWI law? There are three definitions of intoxication in Texas: the loss of the normal use of mental faculties, the loss of normal use of physical faculties, and if a person’s blood alcohol concentration achieves a level of 0.08 or higher. So let’s talk a little bit about what those things mean.
- Loss of normal use involves that word “normal,” and that can be tricky sometimes. Who’s normal? What is normal? And who determines what is normal? And so when it comes to loss of normal use of mental faculties, we’re talking about slurred speech, we’re talking about difficulty reciting the alphabet, we’re talking about any indication that a person’s mental faculties have been impaired.
- When it comes to the loss of normal use of physical faculties, that’s often much easier to detect by a police officer or by a layperson. That generally involves trouble balancing, trouble walking in a straight line, or trouble with swaying, maybe trouble with manual dexterity.
- A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is a little bit easier to explain, but it’s a lot harder to understand. As a person consumes alcohol, their body begins the process of absorbing and metabolizing alcohol, and there are scientific measurements that can be taken of a person’s breath or a person’s blood that will determine how concentrated a person’s blood is with alcohol in their system. Once that level reaches 0.08 or higher, under Texas DWI law and actually under the law of all 50 states, that person is legally intoxicated. And so if a person operates a motor vehicle with a 0.08 or higher blood alcohol concentration, that person is committing DWI.
DWI is a Serious Offense Under Texas Law
So how serious is a DWI? The short answer is very serious. A DWI can carry with it criminal consequences that include possible probation, jail time, prison time if it’s a felony, and criminal fines. But in addition to criminal penalties, you’re also dealing with civil penalties that can include several thousand dollars’ worth of surcharges and license suspensions. And if you are a commercial driver’s license holder, it can result in a mandatory lifetime suspension.
So it’s important to act quickly to protect yourself, your driver’s license, and your loved ones. Thanks for listening today, and I hope you have good luck.
Mr. Wood has done some other informational videos on Texas DWI law. Those are:
- Texas DWI Administrative Hearing
- Driver’s License Suspension for DWI in Texas
- Can You Avoid a Permanent Record of a DWI?
- Texas DWI Expunction & Nondisclosure