A New Texas DWI Ignition Interlock Law Has Arrived!

Texas DWI law includes new ignition interlock incentiveA drunk driving conviction or a Texas DWI can be a big problem, especially when you’re looking for a job, you’re up for a promotion, or you’re trying to find housing in the Lone Star State. Texas gets it, As long as you opt for an ignition interlock device, you could have your Texas DWI dismissed.

Last year Texas DWI law expanded ignition interlock law so that all offenders could have access to the devices. That does not mean all offenders were jumping at the chance to install an interlock on their cars. Many convicted drunk drivers will decline an ignition interlock, preferring to drive illegally on a suspended or revoked license. To make matters worse, many of those drunk drivers will drive illegally, while intoxicated, repeating their crime and increasing dangers on the road.

MADD gives props for the new Texas DWI law that encourages ignition interlock use across the state.

With a new law that was just passed, ignition interlock devices become a lot easier to accept after a Texas DWI conviction. HB 3016 targets first-time drunk drivers with a .08 to .14 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If they use an ignition interlock device for six months without any violations and complete other terms of their Texas DWI sentence, they can a non-disclosure. Non-disclosure essentially wipes the conviction from the offender’s record, as if the crime never occurred.

There are plenty of reasons for us to stay sober when driving, especially when it means we can avoid the entire ordeal surrounding a drunk driving conviction. However, if a night of bad judgment occurs and you can qualify for a Texas DWI non-disclosure, it is in your best interest to opt for the ignition interlock device. Once you have fulfilled your requirement, you can move on with your life as if there never was a problem in the first place.

DWI Distance: Texas Dry Counties and Towns

Texas dry countiesThe Prohibition Era may be over but there are still several counties and towns in Texas that have laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol. We refer to these alcohol deserts as Texas dry counties, or sometimes moist counties, if they allow some alcohol sales with tough restrictions. There is an understandable amount of confusion and controversy over these laws and how they can affect drunk driving.

Texas dry counties and towns do not allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in any form, even in restaurants or other dining establishments. In 2012, there were more than 200 dry counties reported in the U.S., 7 of which are Texas dry counties with 194 other counties categorized as “moist.”. Those restrictions include the inability to purchase alcohol on certain days or restricted hours on Sundays. Some limits are based on the type of alcoholic beverage – wine vs. liquor, for example.

Texas dry counties don’t eliminate the danger of drinking and driving. If an area not allow alcohol sales, a person still has the ability to drive to a “wet” area and consume alcohol. The distance involved in driving back from a wet area can increase the chances of a drunk driving incident, DWI, injury or fatality. For the record, a DWI in any county in Texas could result in an ignition interlock requirement.

Restricting the sale of alcohol does serve to reduce the rates of drinking and driving on a local level, but it can also attribute to long-distance drunk driving. Those who wish to drink alcohol will find a way to purchase and consume their favorite drink, even if it means risking driving while intoxicated on the trip home.

Texas Implied Consent Rules: Boating or Driving While Intoxicated

Texas implied consent for DWI and BWISummer is upon us, and with the season comes plenty of times to kick back with a few cold ones. Only, we all need to remember that our summer celebrations should be nothing but safe, even if we’re out on Canyon Lake near St. Marcos or any of the other popular Texas waterways. Driving or boating while intoxicated (DWI or BWI) in Texas have some similar themes, aside from that whole “intoxication” aspect. Both actions will cause criminal charges for operating a vehicle (land or water) if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above .08 percent. Both are also governed by Texas implied consent laws.

Texas implied consent laws are what you agreed to when you got your driver’s or boating license. Simply put, when you signed for your license, you agreed to BAC testing if you were suspected of driving or boating while intoxicated. When you refuse BAC testing, there are automatic penalties for that refusal, including a license suspension or possible ignition interlock requirement on your vehicles (boats are excluded from ignition interlock requirements).

Texas BWI code states that a first-offense violation is a misdemeanor with a minimum jail sentence of 72 hours. A first-offense DWI carries higher penalties, court costs and a longer license suspension than a boating while intoxicated conviction, but both can cause life-changing situations for the driver or anyone else who may be harmed during the incident.

There’s nothing better than summers in Texas, no matter where you call home. Ruining all that fun by driving or boating while intoxicated seems like a waste of a long summer. If you will be drinking, remember that you have some of the best resources today to ensure you have a safe way home, whether you call a rideshare service or get your buddy down the road to be your designated driver.

MADD Says No Favors for Texas DWI Cops

MADD about Texas DWI copsThere are many reasons to be proud of Texas and its continued fight against drunk drivers across the state. In the last year the state expanded ignition interlock device access to include all Texas DWI offenders, not just those with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or with multiple offenses. That expansion allows a first-offense DWI offender the ability to legally drive their own vehicle as long as there is an interlock installed, in exchange for providing a BAC sample to the device.

Three Texas police officers were arrested for DWI in a span of fewer than four hours last week. Rodriguez faces a charge of drunken driving with a child under the age of 15 in the car. She remains in Texas county jail on an $8,000 bond for felony DUI. Thomaston was stopped by an officer after he allegedly began to drive erratically. Thomaston was found to have been drinking and booked on a drunk driving charge. He faces a misdemeanor DUI and remains in a Texas county jail on a $1,200 bond. Both have been placed on administrative leave pending a full internal and criminal investigation. The third law enforcement agent, a young deputy, Sabrina Moreno, was arrested for drunk driving, less than a mile away from the location where Thomaston was arrested.

In 2012, 782 cases of police officers arrested for DWI  in the U.S. were recorded through Google searches and alerts.

You don’t normally see a police officer arrested for drunk driving, but just because it doesn’t happen very often doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. MADD says Texas DWI cops show nobody is above the law.  Through the expansion of the ignition interlock laws last year, everyone will have access to the program. Sometimes cops make the wrong choice too, and that choice can lead to the same penalties everyone else faces.

Texas Underage DWI: MADD about Prom Season

Prom and Texas underage DWIProm season is here and soon graduation parties will be a cause for celebration, but sometimes at a high cost to teenage lives. Underage drinking is a problem that has serious consequences for the entire family, perhaps most especially for the adults.  A Texas underage DWI assigns responsibility for underage drinking not only to the teens who consume alcohol but also to adults who provide it to teens. As such, MADD is launching a Power of Parents campaign to bring parents and teens together to talk about the dangers of drunk driving.

MADD warns that even after a Texas underage DWI, when the teen or minor has their license reinstated, they may still have to drive under the watchful eye of the courts. In these cases, the court may order the minor to install an ignition interlock device on his or her car or on the car that the minor drives the most frequently. This will have to be done at the minor’s own expense. In many cases, that means the parent is financially responsible, and as the owners of a household vehicle, the parent will have to use the device as if they were convicted of a Texas underage DWI, too.

Ignition interlock devices can be installed in any vehicle, even if you haven’t been arrested or charged with drunk driving. Many parents install ignition interlock devices in their child’s vehicles to help guarantee sober driving and bring peace of mind. Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year, according to MADD. An interlock device can help provide peace of mind by preventing your child from starting their vehicle after they have consumed alcohol.

Power of Parents is one of three programs in MADD’s underage drinking prevention initiative. They are designed to empower teens to take a stand and influence their peers against underage drinking or riding in a car with someone who has been drinking. Power of Parents utilizes environmental strategies to reshape community attitudes to discourage adults from providing alcohol to underage youth and encouraging support for efforts to enforce the minimum drinking age. Combined, the three programs work together for total community mobilization to prevent and reduce underage drinking.

A Texas Underage DWI Means a Family Ignition Interlock

Texas underage DWIZero-tolerance laws were introduced in the early 1980s in reaction to the high level of teenage drunk driving injuries and deaths across the country. Texas teenage DWI is taken seriously, and in response to federal financial incentives, all states now implement zero-tolerance laws. Zero-tolerance laws have two components. The first component is Illegal per se laws; per se means in and of itself. This means that if a minor under 21 years of age is caught driving with a negligible percentage of alcohol in his or her blood, they will be arrested for a DUI immediately.

Some states have different designations for drunk driving convictions below .08 BAC, the legal, per se, limit. In Texas, the different designation actually refers to an underage DWI, a serious crime on its own. To really drive home the point about Texas underage DWI, the state stands out from others in a unique way as well: ignition interlock requirements for Texas underage DWI convictions.

Minors who are convicted of Texas Underage DWI will:

  1. Receive a one-year driver license suspension
  2. Be required to complete a 12-hour class in an authorized Alcohol Education Program*.

*Failure to complete the Alcohol Education Program will result in an 180-daysuspension. Subsequent offenses may result in a one-year suspension.

A minor may also receive a 90-day driver’s license suspension if an interlock ignition device and community service are ordered by the presiding judge  (a special driver license must be issued to drive with an interlock ignition device). That means, parents, if your child is using your car as their own and they are convicted of a Texas underage DWI, your vehicle will likely end up with an IID. Remind your children of your unending sacrifices and that you’d much prefer bringing them home if they’re drinking than have an IID requirement that isn’t your own.

DWI Doh! They Cancelled My Texas Driver’s License

Texas DWI suspended licenseJust when you think your Texas DWI can’t get any worse, you receive a notice in the mail that your driver’s license is no longer valid. Losing your license over a Texas DWI is common, especially when you are first arrested. Your license was revoked or suspended due to your pending DWI criminal charges, per the state’s administrative license revocation policy. But that’s in the past and you’ve been to court and know what the state expects of you. But, now you’ve got to clear up this new license problem.

You are eligible for an ignition interlock in Texas, even for a first-time DWI.

If you get a notice in the mail about your license suspension, it was probably just a step you missed in the process. For instance, a fee may have not been paid, or maybe you didn’t provide proof of your ignition interlock installation, your SR-22 or other documentation.  Make sure when going through the process of reinstating your license, you have proof of each step you’ve taken. That way, if your license is revoked accidentally, you can quickly resolve the issue and get back on the road.

Besides, having an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle without it counting toward your Texas DWI conviction can be a frustrating experience all its own.

Once you’ve assured the court and Texas Department of Public Safety that you are compliant with your court order, you should be okay to drive again. Just make sure that you continue to attend your ignition interlock service appointments and follow any other directives from the court. Your vigilance, patience, and commitment to sober driving will be the best way to get past your Texas DWI conviction and back onto a road of independence and sober driving, and in no time you’ll be back in the driver’s seat with your full independence.

A Texas DWI is Bigger than Average, Too

Texas DWI costs are bigWhen in Texas, do as the Texans do… except, of course, drunk driving. We all know the state likes to go big or go home, so it’s no surprise that the $10K costs of a Texas DWI are almost doubled in the state. Welcome to Texas, just remember that sober driving is going to save you up to $17K, and a whole lot of hassle on top of that.

According to TexasDWI.org, a first offense Texas DWI will cost you:

  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • Around $2,000 to bail you out of jail.
  • Almost $5,000 for a lawyer.
  • Up to $1,000 in county fees.
  • $300 for alcohol education classes.
  • $250 average insurance rate increase.
  • $1,950 to reinstate your license.
  • $3,000 to keep your license after it is reinstated (DWI surcharge)
  • Ignition interlock fees, including installation and monitoring (varies, but you can count on a few dollars per day).

Texas DWI law recently expanded ignition interlock access so that offenders can install the device even if it isn’t mandated by the court. In return, they are able to legally drive and provide their own transportation for employment, education, medical or legal reasons. There is a cost attached to that, but it is much less than the cost of happy hour after work, a sacrifice many are willing to take, considering how they ended up with an interlock in the first place.

More than the financial burden of a DWI, there is the emotional and mental burden to face, too. Lost wages, poor motivation, health issues, etc., impact a person’s quality of life. After a major life event, such as a DWI without incident, all of those problems are possible. If a person is injured or worse during the incident, the mental and emotional toll can be even worse than the $17K cost.

Go big or go home, as long as you get there safely, is the real truth behind preventing Texas DWIs. Nobody wants to face those consequences, especially when drunk driving is preventable with just a simple phone call.

Financial Assistance for Your Texas Ignition Interlock

Financial assistance Texas ignition interlockThe holiday season is the most active DWI time of the year. From “Blackout Wednesday” through New Year’s Day, there is an increase in drunk driving incidents and fatalities on roads across the U.S. There’s also a financial impact that hits home during that time as offenders are faced with holiday expenditures and the cost of a DWI conviction. That’s where financial assistance for a Texas ignition interlock device may be an option during this stressful time of year.

The Texas ignition interlock code specifically addresses offenders who may need financial assistance.

Texas Transportation Code § 521.246. Ignition Interlock Device Requirement:

(c) The person shall obtain the ignition interlock device at the person’s own expense unless the court finds that to do so is not in the best interest of justice and enters that finding in the record. If the court determines that the person is unable to pay for the device, the court may impose a reasonable payment schedule for a term not to exceed twice the period of the court’s order.

Since Texas recently expanded it’s ignition interlock access for all offenders, even those who may have wanted to install the device but could not afford to. With financial assistance, DWI offenders can now opt for the device when it isn’t ordered by the court and have an easier time retaining employment and getting back and forth to other important places. That means the impact of the cost is reduced by both the monthly payment and the ability to continue to earn a paycheck.

The holiday season can be challenging for even the most sober of drivers. Adding in a DWI and its associated costs can make life even harder once the dust settles. Of course, staying sober when driving is the best way to ensure a happy, stress-free holiday. But, if you make a bad call after midnight and end up with a DWI, know that your Texas ignition interlock costs won’t ruin your new year.

99 Years in Prison for a Texas DWI

Texas DWI prison or ignition interlockIf ever there was an example of why ignition interlock devices are important, a 99-year prison sentence for a Texas DWI would be it. 64-year-old Jose Marin of San Marcos, Texas, will spend the rest of his life behind bars after his eighth DWI conviction. This ruling was, in the lead prosecutor Jennifer Stalbaum’s words, to allow us peace so “we can all sleep at night.”

This ruling shows a big difference in how drunk driving penalties have changed in the last few decades, especially with ignition interlock programs and requirements. Texas recently updated its drunk driving laws so that a first-time offender can opt for a device if it isn’t mandated by a court, giving that offender the power to resume life as before the conviction.

Research shows that ignition interlock devices prevent repeat DWI offenses 50 – 90%

We are seeing how an early intervention (an interlock after the first conviction) is changing the rate of repeat drunk driving offenses, as a result of similar access in other states.  If ignition interlock devices had been used decades ago as they are now, there’s a good chance that Marin’s subsequent Texas DWI convictions would not have happened.

 

Instead of spending the rest of his life in prison, Jose could have had the chance for rehabilitation. Too many offenders in prison for alcohol- or drug-related charges are likely to re-offend as soon as they reenter society, and this case is not any different. With his eighth and final Texas DWI charge under his belt, Jose will never get the chance to benefit from an interlock or many programs that supervise drunk driving offenders with an ignition interlock requirement.

Texas is still new to ignition interlock expansion, but with each new required device, there will be less of these headlines in the future. Ignition interlock devices offer a much better (and more affordable) alternative for preventing repeat offenders from getting behind the wheel.