Archive for July, 2015

Texas Follows “Red-State” Trend of Being Tough on DWI Defendants


Texas criminal defense attorneyRed states tend to impose harsher penalties on people who drive under the influence of alcohol, as compared with blue states. Wallet Hub ranked all 50 states plus the District of Columbia in terms of how strict each was with its impaired driving penalties. The strictest state (Arizona) was ranked 1st and the least strict state (South Dakota) was ranked 51st. When classifying all of the states, red states had an average ranking of 23 and blue states had an average ranking of 28.2.

Texas was one of many red states that was stricter than most other locations in the U.S. in its treatment of people convicted of drunk driving. Because those found guilty face serious criminal penalties, anyone accused of impaired driving should consult with an attorney familiar with all aspects of Texas DWI law as soon as possible post-arrest to begin developing an effective strategy to fight charges.

Texas Imposes Strict Penalties on DWI Defendants

The state of Texas ranked 18th out of 51 in terms of how strict its penalties are when a defendant is found guilty of impaired driving. It was tied with New Hampshire and was above South Carolina (ranked 20th) and below Colorado (ranked 17th).

One area in which Texas is stricter than most other locations is in the mandatory minimum jail terms imposed on defendants convicted of impaired driving. In Texas, a first time offender who is convicted of driving while impaired will be sentenced to a minimum of three days imprisonment and a repeat offender with one past conviction will be sentenced to 30 days. The national average is one day in jail for a first offense and 21 days in jail for a second offense.

Texas had a shorter look back period, or time period during which past convictions count against offenders. In Texas, only convictions in the prior five years count to determine whether you have past convictions. Many other states, including South Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Oregon and Louisiana, have a 10-year look back period.

Texas, like many other locations, makes a third offense for DWI a felony conviction. Some locations like Alabama and Arkansas do not impose an automatic felony charge until a fourth offense, while others like Colorado never make impaired driving an automatic felony.

Texas is among the states imposing a 12-month ignition interlock device requirement on those who are found guilty of a first DWI with a BAC of .15. Only four states impose longer than a 12-month ignition interlock requirement (Delaware at 14 months, Oklahoma at 18 months, Massachusetts at 24 months, and Rhode Island at 24 months).

Unlike many other states, however, Texas does not have minimum fines for a first or second conviction for impaired driving. Some states will fine repeat defendants as much as $2100. While conviction won’t necessarily lead to large fines, Texas drivers do see a 44 percent increase in insurance premiums after a conviction, compared to other locations with much lower premium increases.

Defendants need to be aware that Texas is stricter than many other states and need to ensure they are taking aggressive steps to defend themselves from a guilty verdict.