Drunk Driving Laws In Texas
Drinking and driving is a serious offense in any jurisdiction in the United States, but if you live somewhere like Dallas, then you are going to face some of the toughest laws anywhere in the country. While there are many reasons why you should not drink and drive no matter where you live, getting caught behind the wheel in Texas while you are inebriated can be one of the most painful experiences of your life.
Before we get to the criminal charges you face, let’s talk for a second about the civil case you are going to have to deal with if you kill anyone – or even injure them. First of all, your victim’s family is going to hire the best wrongful death lawyer Dallas has to offer, and you are going to end up facing financial ruin, especially if you do not have enough liability insurance to cover the damages. In Texas, families can sue on behalf of their deceased loved ones, and can claim for everything including medical costs prior to death, pain and suffering, funeral costs, and loss of household income. If you do the math on killing someone who earns $100,000 a year and is 40 years old, you are looking at a minimum of $2.5 million – and that is just the start. Because you were above the legal limits of the time, you are also likely to get significant punitive damages because you were grossly negligent. All in all, you can be looking at many millions of dollars if the case goes against you.
When it comes to criminal charges, if you do kill someone you can end up in state prison for 20 years. Even if the person is only injured, the sentence can be as high as 10 years. In both cases, you will also be liable for a fine of up to $10,000, which is probably going to be the least of your problems. Even if you do not injure anyone – for example, if you are pulled over by Dallas police for weaving across the lanes on the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, you are still looking at significant sanctions. For your first offense, you are going to spend up to 180 days in the county jail and will also be liable for a fine of up to $4000. You will also have your license suspended for up to a year, and then pay up to $2000 a year for three years to get your license back. The second offense raises the jail time to as much as a year, and you can lose your license for two years. And, if you are responsible enough to get caught a third time, you can end up spending 10 years in state prison.
Finally, it’s worth knowing that you don’t have to be over the legal limit to fall foul of the law in Texas. If you have an open container of alcohol in the car, you will be fined up to $500 – and that applies whether you are the driver or the passenger.