The United States is facing grim statistics regarding DWI (Driving while intoxicated). In 2009, 32 percent of total road accidents were the result of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. According to the same year’s data, one person died every 48 minutes in alcohol related road accidents. Put in another way, out of 10,000 deaths in road accident, around 7,000 involved driving with high levels of alcohol in the blood stream.
Hence, the year 2009 is marked as a turning point in the legal treatment of DWI. In that year, all 50 states decreed that driving with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of 0.08 constitutes DUI and is considered a crime.
The state of Texas is no exception to that. Authorities show no tolerance towards DWI. This strict policy can be explained in face of the prevalence of alcohol related accidents in the state. In 2009, there were 1,235 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Texas, 185 were drivers under the age of 21. These statistics indicate a death rate of 5 per 100,000 people. In addition, more than 93,000 drivers were arrested for drinking under the influence of alcohol. These numbers turn Texas into the leader state in drunk driving deaths.
This perturbing trend does not show any improvement. According to the Star-Telegram, in 2011, more than 70,000 Texans held more than 3 convictions of intoxicated driving. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, about every 20 minutes, there is a casualty in an alcohol related road accident.
It is no wonder that Texas uses stringent enforcement means to battle the phenomenon of driving under influence of alcohol. The law on DWI states that a person is legally considered intoxicated if his BAC is higher than 0.08. A person can be fined up to $500 just by driving with an open alcohol bottle in his car.
Driving drunk with a child under the age of 15 is considered a much more severe felony to the extent of the driver being accused of child endangerment. In that case, the violator is subject to harsher penalties:
A maximum of $10,000 fine
Up to two years in prison
Driving license confiscation for 180 days.
Like many states in the USA, Texas implements the third offence system, according to which the severity of punishments increases dramatically from first to second and third offences.
A driver convicted of first DUI offence may be subject to a fine as high as $ 2,000. He might be sent to 180 days in prison or be deprived of his driving license for up to a year.
Second offense may result in a fine of up to $ 4,000, a jail time of up to a year and a 2 year loss of driving license.A driver convicted of a third DUI offense can be forced to pay a sum of $ 10,000. Prison time increases to 2-10 years. Driving license may be confiscated for up to two years.
Moreover, after two convictions, a driver must install an ignition device that prevents the car from being operated if he had been drinking.
What happens when you are caught in a state of DWI in Texas? The first thing that might take place once you are stopped by an officer on the road is the officer asking whether you have been drinking. In case he spots alcohol in your vehicle or alternatively smells alcohol, he may ask you to perform Standard Field Sobriety Test (STST). This test includes three routines: a) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, b) Walk and Turn, and c) One Leg Stand. These exercises are meant to give the officer a clue regarding the amount of alcohol in your blood.
The measures included in the STST are designed to provide objective DWI indication. Nevertheless, the test leaves room for subjectivity and depends on the officer sticking to protocol. The officer is not obligated to videotape the whole procedure, but in many cases investigations are put on video. You should know that the materials ought to be delivered to your lawyer.
If the officer has reasons to believe a DUI offence has been committed, you will be read your Miranda rights and put under arrest. That is, you will be taken to jail.
In jail, you will be recorded and this record will become publically available. After the booking process is completed, you will be transferred into an Intoxilyzer Room. There your blood alcohol concentration will be checked either by a breath test or by a blood test. There are four things you should be aware of:
First, even if the result of your alcohol test is below the legal limit of 0.08, you will not automatically be released and can still be charged with DUI.
Second, the Intoxilyzer Room is videotaped and the evidence may be used against you to prove a DWI offence in court.
Third, According to Texas laws, you do not have a right to a lawyer who will help you decide if you are willing to take the alcohol test or not. A demand to consult your lawyer is considered under Texas law as refusal to take the test.
Fourth, The police is not required by law to tell you the result of your alcohol test. However, these results must be given to your lawyer in case you are officially charged of DWI.
Once the investigatory procedures are finished, You will be transferred to jail cell and remain there until you see a judge to decide upon bond. It will usually happen in the morning. That means you will have to spend a night in jail.
In view of the intolerance of the Texas legal system to DUI, it is strongly advisable to implement the Texas Department of transportation recommendation for safe driving and not to drive if you are intoxicated with alcohol. That’s what cabs are for.