DWI vs DUI
Approximately 987 people were killed in car accidents involving a motorist who was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2016 in Texas. The victims who lost their lives include more than 50 pedestrians and bicyclists and over 140 vehicle passengers in vehicles being operated by a drunk driver. The data shows that roughly every 20 minutes, someone is seriously injured or killed in an alcohol related automobile collision in Texas, according to The Right Step.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured by a drunk driver, it is important to have an understanding of the laws and regulations that apply to drunk drivers in Texas.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Under Texas law, you are considered to be intoxicated if you have a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Section § 106.041 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code specifically mentions Driving Under the Influence as it relates to minors. In Texas, if you have any amount of alcohol detected in your system as a minor, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. Essentially, the law is saying that anyone under the age of 21 can be charged if they are driving after consuming any amount of alcohol, even if it was one can of light beer.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
In Texas, DWI is defined as someone who was driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Although it is not scientific, two standard drinks consumed in one hour will raise your blood alcohol concentration to .05. If you are out for drinks at night you can maintain the .05 BAC as long as you consume one drink per hour after having two in the first hour. DWI is a Class B misdemeanor offence in Texas. If your BAC is over .15, your DWI charge would be considered a Class A misdemeanor.
DWI with a Child Passenger
According to Texas Penal Code § 49.045, the charges for a DWI when the vehicle is occupied by a child under the age of 15 years are heightened. The charges elevate to a felony offense and carry a minimum term of 180 days in jail.
Texas “Open Container” Law
Under § 49.031 of the Texas Penal Code, possession of an alcoholic beverage in a motorized vehicle is illegal. The law applies to any open container, can or bottle of beer, wine, liquor, or any other type of alcoholic beverage that is in the “passenger area” of the vehicle (hence the term “open container law”). The passenger area refers to the area where the driver is seated or any passenger. You can transport an open container, such as a half-opened bottle of wine, as long as it is in the:
- Glove compartment;
- Trunk; or
- Behind the last upright seat such as in a SUV or hatchback
The Texas Open Container law applies to vehicles that are in motion and applies if the vehicle is parked or stopped. The only exception to this law is if the person with the open container was a passenger at the time of the offense. The clear objective is to disabuse the temptation of the driver to drink and drive.
Houston Attorney Ready and Able to Help
Whether you were hit and injured by a drunk driver, or you are facing drunk driving criminal charges, you need an experienced Houston attorney to provide top-notch representation in your time of need. The attorneys of Michael P. Fleming & Associates are here to help. Contact our office today 713-221-6800.