texas dwi laws

Just like other states in the US, Texas has strict drink and driving laws. Any person who flouts these laws risks heavy penalties and even jail time. At this point, it is worth noting that DWI convictions remain on record and can influence future cases of the same nature. With that in mind, here is a detailed look at Texas DWI laws:

An Overview of Texas DWI

In general, operating or driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or above is illegal. For commercial drivers, the limit is lower at .04 percent and even lower at .02 percent for drivers who are under 21 years. It is important to note that anyone driving a vehicle in Texas is considered to have given legal consent to take a test for purposes of determining amount of blood alcohol content. This means law enforcement officers have the right to measure a driver’s BAC if they suspect the driver is driving while intoxicated.

DWI Penalties

DWI penalties vary from one offender to the next. For minors, a first offense attracts license suspension for 30 days while second offenders have their licenses suspended for 60 days. Third offenders attract 180 days of driving license suspension. The penalties for adults are more severe with a first DWI offense attracting fines of up to $2,000, up to two years license suspension, and possible ignition lock.

The fine for a second offense runs up to $4,000 and jail time can range anywhere from 1-12 months. This is in addition to annual surcharge of up to $2,000 for three years to keep driving license, participation in DWI education program, and license suspension for up to two years. A third DWI offense attracts fines of up to $10,000, imprisonment ranging from 2-10 years, and possible ignition lock.

A DWI offense that involves a child passenger attracts jail time of up to two years, $10,000 fine, and license suspension for 180 days. What’s more, if you injure another person while driving under the influence, you are likely to face second or third degree felony charge. More importantly, if you refuse to take a blood or breath test, you will still face serious DWI charges.

Possible Future Changes to Texas DWI Laws

If a campaign by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) pans out, Texas could see changes to DWI laws in the near future. MADD is pushing for mandatory ignition interlock for all first time DWI offenders. This is because first time Dallas DWI offenders can still drive while their licenses are suspended. According to MADD president Colleen Sheehey-Church, this legal oversight/loophole makes it possible for first-time offenders to repeat their crimes. Currently, only 24 states in the US have mandatory ignition interlock laws and Texas is not one of them. MADD proponents believe that this is a major contributing factor to increasing drunk driving fatalities across Texas. Figures from the NHTSA show that DUI related deaths in Texas increased by 3.6% in 2013 compared to the same period the previous year.


Driving while intoxicated in the state of Texas is not a good idea. Offenders face fines of up to $10,000, jail time of up to 10 years, license suspension of up to two years, and possible ignition interlock.