Across the country, more than 90 percent of people believe that driving after consuming alcohol is dangerous. However, nearly 14 percent of those same people admit to driving after drinking enough alcohol to render them impaired.
This conflicting information may be one of several reasons why impaired driving is such a problem in Texas and the rest of the country.
“A person is injured or killed in a drunk driving accident every 20 minutes in Texas.”
Difference Between DUI And DWI
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI) are quite similar. They both involve consuming alcohol or drugs and operating a motor vehicle.
In Texas, the distinction between the two is usually the age of the driver. A person who is over 21, and has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level over 0.08 or is on drugs, can be charged with a DWI.
A person under the age of 21 and has any amount of alcohol in their system, this can result in a DUI. However, if a person under 21 has a BAC over 0.08, they can be charged with a DWI.
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Court costs are significantly different for the two charges as well. A first offense DWI charge can come with thousands of dollars in court costs, jail time, loss of a driver’s license, and reinstatement fees. A DUI usually results in fines around $500, suspension of driver’s license, community service, and education classes.
DWI Punishments And Consequences
If a person receives multiple DWI’s, the consequences continue to increase. However, refusing to take a breathalyzer can result in an immediate 180-day driver’s license suspension. The following are an overview of DWI punishment possibilities.
First Offense DWI
- up to $2000 fine
- three to 180 day jail sentence
- loss of driving privileges for up to a year
- fees due annually to keep drivers license for three years ($1000-$2000 yearly)
Second Offense DWI
- fines up to $4,000
- 30 to one year in jail
- loss of driver’s license for up to two years
- fees to reinstate and keep driver’s license for the next three years (up to $2000 per year)
Third Offense DWI
- $10,000 fine
- two to ten years in prison
- loss of driver’s license
- same annual fees for driver’s license
Texas And Drunk Driving Stats
- Texas had the highest fatalities for alcohol impaired driving in the country in 2016, with 1,438 people dying.
- 44% of all vehicle related fatalities were alcohol involved (total of 1,670)
- Texas has significantly higher rates of alcohol related fatalities than the rest of the country.
- Approximately 33 percent of alcohol related fatalities were individuals under the legal drinking age (21)
- Nearly 70 percent of fatalities involving alcohol had blood alcohol content of .15 or above
- In 2017, an estimated 13,177 car crashes were alcohol related
- Over 5,500 people died or were injured in alcohol related car crashes in 2016
Texas Driving With Alcohol Laws
- Up to $500 fine for open alcohol containers in a vehicle
- DWI convictions may require a person to install a breathalyzer ignition in the vehicle that will make it impossible to start if the driver has been drinking
- A first time DWI conviction can be issued a non-disclosure (wiped off their record) if they successfully complete six months of the modified ignition
- Driving while intoxicated with a child under 15 in the vehicle is a felony and the driver can receive:
- two years in jail
- loss of drivers licence
- $10,000 fine
Avoiding A DWI or DUI
Drinking and driving is not only dangerous for the driver, but it can cause irreversible damage to everyone involved. There are several ways to avoid the dangers associated with drunk driving and stay safe, such as
- have a designated driver
- have a friend pick you up
- call a cab
- make arrangements to stay or get a motel instead of travel
- don’t drink and drive
Driving drunk is dangerous and can be an indication of a bigger problem. If you or a loved one has been stopped for driving while impaired, and are seeking alcohol abuse treatment, we can help. Contact us today to explore options.