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What Are the DWI Laws in Texas?

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

While Texas law enforcement is always on the lookout for intoxicated drivers, holidays and vacation times can be especially dangerous. For example, over spring break in 2021, there were 872 DWI-related crashes, in which there were 30 fatalities and 107 serious injuries.

Drivers should never take the wheel if they suspect they may be impaired. Sometimes, people may be unsure how to interpret Texas DWI lawys and exactly what the blood alcohol concentration limits are. Drivers should also be aware how legally prescribed medications and marijuana can land you in hot water with law enforcement.

Read on to learn the facts about Texas DWI laws.

Drunk Driving Laws in Texas

Drunk driving laws in Texas may seem pretty straightforward but often drivers don’t understand exactly how Texas laws differ from other states. Depending on the factors at the time of arrest, drivers may be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony DWI. The driver may also get charged with additional crimes if the circumstances deem it necessary.

Blood Alcohol Concentration

Whenever a police officer pulls someone over for suspected drunk driving, it is their job to establish whether the person is intoxicated. DWI laws in Texas define alcohol intoxication as when someone has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If you are a commercial driver, however, you are considered intoxicated with a BAC of 0.04%.

BAC is a term that refers to the proportion of alcohol to blood in someone’s body at any given point. If you have a BAC of 0.10%, then you have one part alcohol per 1000 parts blood. BAC is impacted by factors such as your weight, how quickly you drank, your sex, the food you ate, and any medication you take.

If you are under the age of 21, Texas has a no-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. If you have any detectable level of alcohol in your system, you will get charged with a DWI. Be mindful of getting behind the wheel if you take any cough medications that contain alcohol as they may result in a positive breathalyzer test result.

Aggravating Factors

If you’re considering getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks, it’s important to note that you might not just face DWI charges if you get caught.

For example, if you’re caught driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, you can also face child endangerment charges. If you have an open container in your car, you’ll also get charged with a violation of Texas open container laws. Finally, if you are in an accident and someone is seriously injured or killed, you may get charged with manslaughter.

What About Marijuana and Prescription Medication?

A lot of people think that DWI laws only apply to alcohol consumption, but they are applicable to many different substances. Some of the most common alternative sources of DWI charges are driving while high on marijuana or prescription medication. The same portion of the Texas Penal Code that defines intoxication by BAC also defines it by the usage of drugs.

Unlike with alcohol arrests, there’s no breathalyzer test that shows you’re high on marijuana or prescription medication at the time of the arrest. Instead, officers may perform a standard field sobriety test to determine whether they request that you take a urine or blood test. They may also call in a drug recognition expert to determine if you’re showing signs of impairment.

What Are the Consequences of Violating DWI Laws?

There are many consequences that come with DWI arrests. Some are criminal and some are financial. It’s likely you’ll face a combination of the two, depending on the severity of your DWI.


The financial implications of your DWI depend on how many DWIs you’ve had in the past. If this is your first DWI, then you’ll face a fine of up to $2,000. Your second DWI comes with a $4,000 fine, and every subsequent DWI has a $10,000 fine.

You also fine separate state fines between $3,000 and $6,000. If you depend on the use of your vehicle for work, you’ll also have to deal with the loss of your license for up to two years. Commercial drivers may be able to continue driving for work, but only with the installation of an ignition interlock device at their expense.

You also need to factor in the cost of missing work due to mandatory appearances at court dates. Overall, DWI charges are quite expensive, especially if you get more than one.


DWI arrests also come with prison time for some people. The amount of time you spend in jail depends on how many DWIs you’ve had in the past and if there are any aggravating circumstances present. Maximum prison time ranges from 180 days for first offenses, a year for second offenses, and ten years for third offenses.

You may also be required to take a class on responsible drinking or attend a rehabilitation program as part of your punishment.

What Should You Do If You’re Charged with a DWI or Drunk Driving Felony?

Many people make mistakes and end up facing DWI charges. If you’ve found yourself in that position, then it’s important to know your rights in the legal process.

The first step in your legal defense starts the moment the police flash their lights at you. Pull over as soon you safely can, and comply with the requests of the officer for identifying information. If the police officer asks you if you know why the reason for the stop, your answer should always be, “no, sir/ma’am.”

The officer will ask if you’ve been drinking, you can say yes or no, or you can ask why the officer is asking. If the officer asks you to take a field sobriety test, politely request to speak with your attorney before submitting to any tests. The officer may arrest you, at which time you should invoke your right to an attorney and don’t answer any questions until your attorney arrives.

Are you facing DWI charges in Texas?

As you can tell, Texas legislators and law enforcement officers take the risks posed by intoxicated drivers seriously.

You can try to calculate how much you can safely drink before you get behind the wheel, but your blood alcohol concentration is impacted by a number of different factors. The best way to avoid getting into trouble with the law is to not get behind the wheel if you’ve had anything to drink or if you’ve taken any kind of mind-altering substances.

If you’ve found yourself in violation of Texas DWI laws in the area of The Woodlands, then you need the best legal representation possible. Woodlands DWI lawyer Andrea M. Kolski has over 20 years of experience winning DWI cases for those facing charges. Contact Non Stop Justice today to learn how attorney Andrea M. Kolski can help defend your rights and insure the best possible outcome.

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