Texas gets tougher on DWI offenders

This past legislative session, the Texas State Legislature reinforced the notion that intoxicated driving will not be tolerated in the state of Texas. As of September 1, 2001, those arrested for driving while intoxicated will face stiffer penalties. Texas has an implied consent law. When each of us applies for a Texas driver’s license, we give our implied consent to the taking of a breath or blood specimen upon arrest for driving while intoxicated. Texas has this law because driving on our Texas roadways is a privilege and not a right, and with the privileges goes certain responsibilities- one of which is to not drive while intoxicated. The implied consent we give is for the taking of our breath or blood specimen for analysis to determine the alcohol concentration or the presence in our body of a controlled substance, drug, dangerous drug, or other substance. The legislature is very serious about the implied consent law. In fact, so serious that now, if a person refuses to provide a breath or blood sample at the request of a law enforcement officer, that individual automatically will lose their license for 180 days. Under previous Texas law, the suspension was for a period of 90 days. This is a 300% increase in the penalty for refusing to give a breath or blood sample. And if the person has had one or more alcohol or drug related enforcement contacts within ten years, then they will lose their license for two years. This is up from a suspension of a period of 180 days. If an individual submits to a breath or blood test and they fail the test by having a breath alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, they will lose their license for 90 days. Under previous Texas law, the period of suspension was for 60 days. For a second or more offense within ten years, the individual will lose their license for one year. Both of these suspensions take place administratively, before an individual even goes to court and before a plea is entered. Upon conviction of a first offense for driving while intoxicated, the individual will lose their license from 90 days to one year. And on a second offense, the individual will lose their license from 180 days to two years. If the second conviction is within 5 years of a previous driving while intoxicated offense, then the individual will lose their license for one to two years and must have a mandatory ignition interlock device installed in their car at their expense. The ignition interlock device requires the person to provide a sample of their breath in a mechanical device designed to determine breath alcohol concentration, and if the person is determined to be under the influence of alcohol, the vehicle will not operate. These new, enhanced penalties for driving while intoxicated offenders leaves no doubt that Texas will be tough on those who drive while intoxicated. Understandably so- no only are they endangering their own lives by getting behind the wheel, but they’re endangering our lives as well.

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