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Texas DWI Laws & Penalties

Texas DUI/DWI law states that it is against the law for any person to drive a motor vehicle in the state of Texas while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.

It is not necessary for a person who has been stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence to display the signs one would typically associate with someone who is under the influence.  Just the fact that a chemical test shows a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater will get you arrested for DUI/DWI in Texas.

It should also be noted that a person could still be arrested for driving under the influence in Texas even if their blood alcohol concentration level is below the legal limit of .08% just by displaying signs that are consistent with a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

When an officer stops someone on suspicion of DWI/DUI in Texas, the officer is already starting to build a case against that person by observing their driving patterns prior to initiating the DUI/DWI stop.  If the officer has established reasonable grounds and suspects that someone is under the influence, the officer is going to request that the individual perform some field sobriety test (it is not required by law that you submit to the field sobriety tests. If an officer asks you to take the field sobriety test, just kindly refuse his request).

The officer is then going to request that you submit to a chemical test.  Submitting to a chemical test is required by the Texas Administrative License Revocation Program.  If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, the officer must inform the driver of the penalties for test refusal and then ask the driver a second time if he or she will submit to a chemical test.

Texas Administrative Revocation Hearing Process

Whether or not you refused or failed the chemical test chosen by the arresting officer, the officer is going to confiscate your driver's license and issue a "Notice of Suspension". Upon being arrested for DUI/DWI in Texas you only have 15 days from the date of the arrest to request an administrative hearing with the State Office of Administrative Hearings if you wish to challenge the suspension of your driver's license.

If you do not request a hearing within the 15 days that is allowed by law, you forfeit your chance to challenge your license suspension and the officer's suspension of your license will stand.  If however, you do request an administrative hearing within the 15 days allotted, the temporary permit that the officer issued you when you were arrested will remain in effect until a decision is reached in your administrative revocation case.

Hearing Process

The ALR hearings are conducted by an Administrative Law Judge who is employed by the State Office of Administrative Hearings and is not an employee of the Department of Public Safety so as to try and ensure an impartial hearing.  If your arrest occurred in a county with a population of at least 300k people, your ALR hearing will be held within that county.  If the population is less than 300k your hearing will be held within a 75 mile radius of the county.

At the hearing, the Texas DPS has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in fact driving under the influence and of course it yours and your lawyer's responsibility to try and get the suspension of your license dismissed.  The ALJ will review all of the information provided to him or her by the Department of Public Safety and the arresting officer.

The ALJ will also review all of the evidence that you and your lawyer have presented in your defense and hear testimony from all parties involved under oath including any witnesses that you and your lawyer may have request to be subpoenaed to appear at the hearing.

After hearing all the testimonies and reviewing the evidence the ALJ will make the final decision as to whether or not the suspension of your license should be upheld.  If the ALJ rules in your favor, your license will be reinstated, if however, the ALJ upholds the officer's suspension of your license, you will have to serve the suspension period.

Administrative Hearings can be quite intimidating for someone who has never been to one before and it is highly recommend that if you wish to challenge the suspension of your driver's license through the ALR program that you hire a Texas DUI lawyer who has experience when it comes to representing clients at these hearings if you hope to have any chance of a successful outcome at your hearing.

Texas First Offense DWI

A Texas first offense DWI conviction is a Class B Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

Jail time:  A first offense conviction will result in a jail sentence of 72-hours or if there was an open container in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, the jail sentence will be 6 days.

Fines:  The fine amount for a first offense will be up to $2,000 plus associated court costs.  Texas imposes a surcharge on top of the fine amount listed above for DWI offenders in the amount of $1,000.  You will will have to pay this additional surcharge for 3 consecutive years.  If your BAC level was .16% or greater, the surcharge amount will be $2,000 per year for 3-years.

DWI School:  You will be required to attend a state approved 12-hour DWI school as a first time offender.  You must complete the program within 180 days of your probation otherwise your license may be revoked by the Texas DPS.

Probation:  The terms of your probation will be determined by the court.

Community Service:  You will be required to perform a minimum of 24-hours of community service up to a maximum of 100-hours.

License Suspension:  Your license will be suspended for between 90 days and 1-year if you submitted to a chemical test following a first offense.  If you refused the chemical test your license will be suspended between 180 days and 2-years.  First time offenders may be eligible for a occupational license if they meet the requirements for one.

Before the Texas DPS will reinstate your license following your suspension period or issue you a occupational license you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Texas SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee to the DPS.

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Texas Second Offense DWI

A Texas second offense DWI conviction is a Class A Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

Jail time:  A second offense conviction will result in a jail sentence of 72-hours up to 1-year.

Fines:  The fine amount for a second offense will be up to $4,000 plus associated court costs.  Texas imposes a surcharge on top of the fine amount listed above for DWI offenders in the amount of $1,500.  You will will have to pay this additional surcharge for 3 consecutive years.  If your BAC level was .16% or greater, the surcharge amount will be $2,000 per year for 3-years.

DWI School:  You will be required to attend a state approved 32-hour DWI school as a second time offender.  You must complete the program within 180 days of your probation otherwise your license may be revoked by the Texas DPS.

Probation:  The terms of your probation will be determined by the court.

Community Service:  You will be required to perform a minimum of 80-hours of community service up to a maximum of 200-hours.

License Suspension:  Your license will be suspended for between 180 days and 2-years for a second offense violation.  Second time offenders may be eligible for a occupational license if they meet the requirements for one.

Before the Texas DPS will reinstate your license following your suspension period or issue you a occupational license you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Texas SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee to the DPS.

Texas Third Offense DWI

A Texas third offense DWI conviction is a 3rd degree Felony offense and carries the following penalties:

Jail time:  A third offense conviction will result in a jail sentence of 2-years up to 10-years.

Fines:  The fine amount for a third offense will be up to $10,000 plus associated court costs.  Texas imposes a surcharge on top of the fine amount listed above for DWI offenders in the amount of $1,500.  You will will have to pay this additional surcharge for 3 consecutive years.  If your BAC level was .16% or greater, the surcharge amount will be $2,000 per year for 3-years.

DWI School:  You will be required to attend a state approved 32-hour DWI school as a third time offender.  You must complete the program within 180 days of your probation otherwise your license may be revoked by the Texas DPS.

Probation:  The terms of your probation will be determined by the court.

Community Service:  You will be required to perform a minimum of 80-hours of community service up to a maximum of 200-hours.

License Revocation:  Your license will be revoked for 2-years for a third offense violation.  Third time offenders may be eligible for a occupational license if they meet the requirements for one.

Before the Texas DPS will reinstate your license following your suspension period or issue you a occupational license you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Texas SR22 policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee to the DPS.

Texas CDL DUI/DWI Laws

A person operating a commercial motor vehicle in the state of Texas while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or greater or refusing to submit to a chemical test is in violation of the state's laws regarding CDL's and will be arrested for DUI/DWI and your CDL will be revoked for a period of 1-year following a first offense violation.  A second CDL DUI/DWI offense will result in your CDL being revoked for life.

If you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, your CDL will be revoked for 3-years. A second offense violation while carrying hazardous materials will result in a permanent CDL revocation, you will never be able to drive or operate a CMV again.  A CMV operator stopped and found to have any measurable amount of alcohol less than .04% in their system will be issued an "out-of-service" notice and will not be allowed to drive for the next 24-hours.

Texas DUI/DWI Under 21 Years of Age

Anyone under the age of 21 who is stopped by an officer and found to be drinking and driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .02% or greater is in violation of the Texas "zero tolerance" law and will be facing license suspension penalties for violating the zero tolerance law.

Your license will be suspended for 30 days following a first offense violation.  Your license will be suspended for 60 days for a second offense violation and your license will be suspended for 90 days following a third offense violation.

If you are under 21 and are arrested for having a BAC level of .08% or greater you will be facing the same fines and penalties as someone over 21 would face for the same offense.

You will also be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Texas SR22 insurance coverage before the Department of Safety will reinstate your license.

Texas SR22 Requirements

Before the Texas Department of Public Safety will reinstate your license following your suspension period, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your SR22 insurance coverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the Texas DPS of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the Texas DPS will immediately suspend your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the DPS before they will issue you another license.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of Texas and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a SR22 insurance policy in Texas for any less. Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other Texas DWI Resources

  • Texas First Offense DWI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DWI classes, and much more.

  • Texas SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about Texas SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • Texas DWI While Intoxicated Education - We offer a complete listing of state approved DWI education classes listed by County.

  • Texas Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of Texas bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.

  • Texas DWI Courts - Comprehensive list of Texas criminal courts listed by County.

  • Jails in Texas - Comprehensive list of Texas jails and contact information.