Many drivers know that driving intoxicated is illegal, but they don’t understand the DWI process. The laws are often complex, and case outcomes vary by circumstance and facts, but drivers in Houston, Texas, should know what is likely to happen if they get arrested.
Overview of Texas DWI
Many states refer to drunk driving as DUI, but Texas calls it a DWI, or driving while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. A DUI is commonly issued to drivers under 21 who cannot have any amount of illegal substances or alcohol.
The legal blood alcohol limit for standard drivers is 0.08, which also includes boaters and pilots, and the limit is 0.04 for commercial drivers. A driver may get charged with a DWI even if they don’t register 0.08 if they show signs of impairment. A first offense commonly includes penalties of a maximum 180-day jail term, a one-year license suspension and a maximum $2,000 fine.
After the arrest
An officer may ask the driver to undergo standard field sobriety tests, such as the eye test, and a breath test. If the officer believes that the driver is intoxicated from tests and observations, they commonly take them into custody. They may take a mugshot and fingerprints to add to the FBI’s national database, which is the typical procedure for a misdemeanor.
During the booking process, the officer asks the driver personal information, such as name, address, birth date and offense information. An arrested individual does not have to answer any other questions to avoid self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Some offenders may have a chance to post bail, or a fee promising that the defendant will appear in court to get released from custody. Offenders who are not allowed to post bail after the booking commonly attend a hearing, and the judge determines the amount.
Drunk driving cases require careful attention, but the driver can defend against the charges or get them reduced. A first offender may be able to plea down to a lesser charge, for example.