In the state of Texas every 20 minutes someone is hurt or killed in a vehicular crash involving alcohol. Many DUI cases usually involve college students, in a recent case a priest was charged with driving while intoxicated after a car accident. The problem of drunk driving impacts people of all ages and walks of life. There are extremely harsh penalties for drivers who make the reckless and irresponsible decision of getting behind the wheel when intoxicated. So in in the interest of self-preservation and the safety of others it is important that you know your limits and the DUI laws in Texas. Under Texas state law, being intoxicated while driving means having a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
A person is considered intoxicated and driving under the influence if he or she is impaired in any way regardless of the BAC. People can achieve that level of drunkenness from having two or three drinks in an hour. Women and adolescents having one or two drinks in an hour may lead to a BAC of 0.08. The vast majority of DUI crashes occur between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m. with the two highest days being Saturday and Sunday. Courts in Texas are required to order ignition interlocks for all repeat offenders or first-time offenders with a BAC of 0.15 or greater as a condition of probation. It requires all people caught driving while intoxicated (DWI) to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicles in order to have their driving privileges restored following an arrest. Since that initiative, drunk driving deaths in Texas have shown a slight decrease.
In 1994, the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that for any sobriety checkpoint to be reasonable, it must at a minimum be authorized by a statewide policy governing checkpoints. Police officers are not authorized to conduct roadblocks in Texas. Sobriety checkpoints or similar roadblocks are thus unconstitutional in the state as a result. MADD has advocated passing laws allowing checkpoints and requiring ignition interlocks for drivers who refuse a chemical alcohol test. They believe that this can further reduce the number of DUI deaths. A pretrial diversion program, formerly known as DIVERT, which offers an alternative to prosecution in Texas. First-time offenders who qualify for participation receive coordinated assistance in group therapy and counseling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and other community agencies appropriate to their needs.
This program has strict guidelines the terms of which are spelled out in a contract that the judge signs off on before the program is initiated. Most programs generally last for a duration of a full year. It is absolutely illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of any substance in Texas and a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher is considered to be legally intoxicated. Intoxication is defined under the Texas Penal Code as “not having normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a combination of 2 or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; OR having alcohol concentration of .08 or more.” Minors driving with a BAC of .01 or higher are considered to be legally intoxicated, because it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in the state of Texas.
Having an open container of alcohol even if it has not been consumed is prohibited while driving in Texas. Driving intoxicated with a passenger who is under the age of 15 is considered a felony with guaranteed jail time. Alcohol, drugs, and other similar substances have an immediate effect upon a person’s physical and mental faculties both of which are required to operate a vehicle. Consumption of alcohol results in blurred vision, decreased reaction time, slurred speech, and it can also render you unable to think in a clear fashion. When your ability to react is depleted, your vision of the roads may also be affected, in that scenario you are likely to cause an accident hurting yourself and possibly others. In this way, you’re not only placing yourself in danger but you’re also endangering the lives of other motorists around you.
As statistics show that drunk driving accidents are on the rise in Texas, the minimum penalty for a Texas DUI or DWI is incarceration for a minimum of 72 hours and fines that can reach up to $500. Driving while intoxicated with an open container in the vehicle results in a minimum of 6 days in jail. Minors breaking this law pay a $500 fine, take an alcohol awareness course, perform community service, and have their driver’s license suspended. Texas has many important impaired driving laws already in place that are saving money and lives. Some of the notable laws against drunk driving are:
- Administrative License Revocation
- Zero Tolerance Law
- .08 BAC Law
- Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA)
- Graduated Licensing
A number of additional strategies can be employed to mitigate the harm from impaired driving. Some methods of additional prevention that may be employed are:
Intensive Sobriety Checkpoint Program
Enforcement of Texas State BAC limits with effective placement sobriety checkpoints can reduce alcohol-related fatalities and save approximately thousands of dollars in resources Including police resources, costs of travel delay and mobility losses by impaired drivers.
Enforcing Serving Intoxicated Patrons Law
Using all resources available to law enforcement to ensure that the State law against serving alcohol to intoxicated bar and restaurant patrons is enforced which can potentially reduce alcohol-related crash fatalities.
These training programs serve to educate and train the servers of alcoholic beverages in order to alter their serving practices to prevent patron intoxication and alcohol-impaired driving. Statistics report that 40% to 60% of people that are impaired drive after consuming alcohol in bars, clubs or restaurants.
If you were injured in an accident or a loved one was killed due to someone's reckless actions, don't delay in discussing your case with a personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are fully protected.
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