Drunk driving is a menace that has taken thousands of lives and continues to wreak havoc on the roads. Every state has passed laws to combat this menace including penalties for those who have been caught Driving While Intoxicated or DWI. In Texas, there are a number of different penalties with their severity being dependent on several factors including the individual’s driving history, number of DWI offenses, age, and level of intoxication. The circumstances surrounding the arrest may also increase the gravity of the offense. Anyone caught by the police should immediate call an DWI attorney Austin to help them prove their innocence or reduce their sentence.
Minors and Adults
Texas law defines minors as those who are under the age of 21. They may get a license to drive but they are strictly forbidden to drink while doing so. They face severe penalties if they ever get caught with even a single drop of alcohol in their body. This is because minors are already known to be prone to accidents due to their inexperience and risky behaviors. Adding alcohol into the mix just increases the possibility of a collision to unacceptable levels. Young people are also less tolerant of the substance. The law deems it best to correct their behavior at an early age.
Adults, on the other hand, are usually subjected to a test in order to determine their Blood Alcohol Content or BAC right at the time of the arrest. This objective measure is usually acquired through a breath analyzer although blood and urine samples may also be used to confirm initial findings. The legal upper limit for the general population is 0.08% while drivers of commercial vehicles are held to a higher standard at 0.04%. However, note that a person can still be charged with DWI despite registering values lower than these. As long as the officer sees signs of intoxication to the point of impaired mental and physical faculties, the driver is considered a danger to the public and the arrest can be made.
Even first time offenders can land in jail. However, most judges will agree to suspend this sentence in exchange for a period of probation. It is often extended to motorists who have an otherwise clean record, thus giving them the chance the make amends for this unusual behavior. This can last a minimum of six months to a maximum of two years, but most last one year. During this probationary period, individuals are required to report regularly to a probationary officer who will monitor behavior and compliance. There will also be fines to be paid and educational classes to attend. A certain number of hours of community service must be completed as well.
Those on probation need to attend a Victim Impact Panel for them to realize the possible consequences of their actions. They will also undergo drug and alcohol evaluation, with random urinalysis samples taken. Throughout all these, they are expected to maintain their job so that they can provide adequate support for all of their dependents. There are some things that they are barred from doing while they complete the probationary period. For example, they cannot visit bars, drink alcohol, violate the law, take drugs, and so on. Anyone convicted for a second time with DWI have a vastly reduced chance of dodging prison with probation.
A big part of the campaign against drunk driving hinges on education. Motorists must understand why there is a law against it and why it is so important for them to abide. It is typically provided as an alternative to first-time offenders who wish to avoid a prison term. While on probation, they are free to live their lives as normal with only a few added tasks from the court. The Department of State Health Services will be the one administering the DWI classes. The entire course is made up of 12 hours of lectures. The topics will include alcohol impairment, patterns of drinking, drug use, and avoidance. Failure to complete this within 180 days will result in license revocation.
This is geared towards people who have been caught driving while intoxicated more than once. As repeat offenders, they require more potent intervention measure to stop them from engaging in this dangerous behavior. They are encouraged to seek treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse. The program is 32 hours long, covering topics such as the prevention of relapse, lifestyle issues, treatment options, and co-dependency. Attendees will also be made aware of the psychological and physical effects of drug use and alcohol abuse. This program needs to be completed by the offender or else his license will be revoked. It will only be returned upon successful completion.
The judge may also compel the offender to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle. He will have to cover the cost of the installation himself. This device has a breath analyzer which can determine the BAC level of an individual. The driver will have to blow into the mouthpiece of this contraption and pass the test before it allows the car to start. If the analyzer senses a BAC higher than the limit, then the vehicle will not be able to move at all. This is designed to prevent convicted DWI drivers from using their vehicle again if they engage in irresponsible behavior.
Hiring an Austin DWI Lawyer
As you can see, there are complex rules governing drunk driving in the state of Texas. If you get apprehended for such a crime, then you need to call an Austin DWI lawyer immediately to get you out of jail and prepare your defense in court. A lawyer may be able to get the case dismissed or lower the penalties.