Texas Definition of Intoxicated
Why is that? According to the CDC, Texas’ rate of death by crashes involving a drunk driver per 100,000 people is about 1.5 times the national average. Likewise, a local news report ranked Texas’ drunk driving death rate as the fourth highest in the nation. The severity of the problem is a major impetus for law enforcement to crack down on impaired drivers. If you find yourself ensnared in the web of a DWI charge, a Dallas DUI/DWI lawyer can help you navigate the criminal justice process.
If you are charged with driving while intoxicated in Dallas, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute you under the Texas Penal Code. The definition of “intoxicated” according to Texas Penal Code 49.01(2) is:
- “Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
- Having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more.”
Note that the first definition includes drugs/controlled substances, meaning you don’t have to be drunk to be charged with DWI. You can also be high or under the influence of a substance other than alcohol if you have lost the “normal use” of your mental or physical faculties.
Types of Dallas DWI Charges
There are over a dozen DWI-related charges you can be prosecuted for under the Texas Penal Code. Three such charges will depend on whether you’ve ever had a DWI before. For example, if you’ve never had a DWI, you would be charged with DWI first offense, which is a Class B misdemeanor. A DWI second offense is a Class A misdemeanor, while a third offense DWI is a third-degree felony. We’ll explore penalties later, but for now, here’s a snapshot of the driving while intoxicated crimes you can be charged with in Dallas, Texas:
- DWI, first through third offense. In Texas, priors for DWI never go away. In other words, Texas’ “lookback” period for what counts for enhancement purposes is infinite. Even deferred adjudications count as priors in Texas.
- Intoxication manslaughter. When operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you cause the death of another by accident or mistake.
- Felony DWI. Certain enhancements to misdemeanor DWIs can raise them to felonies, such as causing injury in a motor vehicle accident.
- Boating while intoxicated (BWI). Operating a watercraft under the same definition of intoxication shown above.
- Flying while intoxicated. Operating an aircraft while intoxicated.
- BAC of 0.15 or more. Also known as “extreme DWI,” this charge applies if your blood, breath, or urine shows an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more.
- DWI with a child passenger. You commit a state jail felony if you are intoxicated while operating a vehicle with a passenger who is younger than 15.
- DWI with open container. If you have an open container of alcohol in your immediate possession at the time you are driving while intoxicated, it raises the penalties for DWI significantly.
- Intoxication assault. Applies if you are intoxicated operating a vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or amusement park ride and by accident or mistake, cause serious bodily injury to another.
Can You Get a DUI Charge in Dallas?
Texas is unique in that it has both DUI and DWI charges. However, depending on your age, you can only get one or the other. Texas has what’s known as zero-tolerance under-21 DUI laws, meaning if you are not old enough to drink legally, you cannot have any amount of alcohol in your system while driving. If you are under 21 and operate a vehicle, boat, or airplane with any detectable amount of alcohol in your system, you will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
Note that under-21 drivers get charged with DUI in Texas, while 21-and-over drivers get charged with DWI. If you have no priors, a DUI offense in Dallas is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, community service of 20-40 hours relating to the misuse and prevention of alcohol abuse, and a 60-day license suspension. While you will not face jail time for your first DUI offense, if you have priors you can face jail time of up to 180 days for subsequent offenses.
Penalties for Common DWI Offenses
The penalties for DWI offenses in Dallas vary widely depending on several factors, such as what your BAC was, whether you caused an accident with injuries or death, and even whether you had an open container of alcohol with you at the time.
DWI First Offense Dallas
For a first offense DWI, you will likely serve somewhere between three to180 days in jail unless you’re granted probation. You’ll face fines of up to $3,000 and a license suspension of 90-365 days. You do not typically need to install an ignition interlock device (IID). If you had an open container within your possession at the time, the minimum jail time jumps to six days.
DWI Second and Third Offense Dallas
A second offense DWI in Texas will get you a mandatory three days in jail, with up to 12 months possible. The maximum fine for a second offense is $6,000. A third offense will get you a mandatory ten days in jail (and up to ten years) and up to $10,000 in fines. For a second or third offense DWI, you will also have to install an ignition interlock device and face license suspensions.
Extreme DWI Dallas: BAC 0.15 or Higher
Our Dallas DUI/DWI primer can help you get your bearings as you move forward with your drunk driving charge. But it is no substitute for an experienced, knowledgeable attorney. Get in touch with us for advice specific to your case so your DUI or DWI doesn’t end up having more consequences than necessary.
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