Texas’ Alcohol Laws: Understanding the Legalities of Drinking and Driving
If you or a family member are facing a drunk driving charge in Texas, it is crucial to be aware of the state’s alcohol laws. The experienced drunk driving defense lawyers at the Neal Davis Law Firm are here to help you understand and protect your legal rights in such cases.
Texas BAC Laws: Beyond the Terminology
To begin with, Texas’ laws on intoxication and alcoholic beverage offenses do not specifically refer to “BAC” (blood alcohol concentration). Instead, they focus on alcohol concentration in the blood. However, “BAC” is commonly used to describe a person’s blood alcohol content.
Texas drunk driving laws outline the required alcohol concentration or content in the blood for someone to be arrested and charged with drunk driving.
Legal Intoxication: Understanding the Limits
According to Texas law, being intoxicated legally means having an alcohol concentration in the blood of 0.08 percent or more. This standard is also applicable in most states across the nation.
Moreover, being intoxicated under Texas law is not limited to a specific BAC level. It can also mean not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the presence of alcohol, controlled substances, drugs, dangerous drugs, or a combination of these substances.
It is important to note that the legal drinking age in Texas is 21. Therefore, anyone under 21 who is arrested for drunk driving also commits the offense of underage drinking.
Charges for BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, or First DWI
For individuals who are at least 21 years old and are arrested for drunk driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, they can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. First-time offenders may face punishments such as a minimum of 3 days (72 hours) in jail, with a maximum jail time of 6 months (180 days).
Furthermore, offenders may be fined up to $2,000, have their driver’s license suspended for 90 days to 1 year, pay $1,000 to $2,000 annually to retain their license, and be placed on probation.
Charges for BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, or Second DWI
When the BAC level exceeds 0.15 percent or if it is a second DWI offense with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, the charge becomes a Class A misdemeanor.
Punishments for a Class A misdemeanor drunk driving charge are twice as severe as those for a Class B misdemeanor. Those convicted of a Class A misdemeanor may face fines up to $4,000, up to 1 year in jail, and a driver’s license suspension of up to 18 months.
If an individual is arrested a third time for drunk driving, the charge becomes a first-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and jail time ranging from 2 to 10 years.
Can BAC Tests Be Inaccurate?
When facing severe punishments and penalties under Texas drunk driving laws, it is essential to understand that the accuracy of BAC tests becomes a critical question in determining guilt or innocence.
The answer is simple: yes.
Roadside BAC tests are often administered by poorly trained officers using poorly maintained equipment, rendering the results unreliable.
Breathalyzers are the most common devices used for these tests. A recent study by the New York Times revealed that such tests are not always trustworthy, and many BAC test results have been invalidated due to human error and insufficient oversight.
In fact, if you were pulled over and submitted to a breath test for BAC, there’s a chance that test may be inadmissible in court.
Factors Affecting BAC Test Accuracy
Several factors can contribute to the inaccuracy or misleading nature of BAC tests. For instance, equipment used for testing may have expired seals or elements, compromising its reliability.
Additionally, many breathalyzers use semiconductor sensors, which are cheaper but less accurate than platinum fuel cell sensor technology. These semiconductor sensors can also produce false positives, potentially indicating alcohol content when none or very little was present.
Other factors that can impact the accuracy of BAC tests include the device reacting to cigarette smoke or chemicals in the air, mouth-related substances like breath fresheners and mouthwashes, and the presence of ketones in the blood, which have a similar chemical structure to alcohol.
Software bugs, improper calibration, low batteries, and human error in test operation are also variables that can affect the accuracy of BAC results.
Get Legal Support for BAC Test Defense
Considering these factors, it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable BAC test defense lawyer or a drunk driving defense attorney if you face a charge for an intoxication offense or drunk driving in Texas.
Residents of Houston, Sugar Land, or The Woodlands, including Harris County, Fort Bend County, and Montgomery County, can rely on the expertise of the Neal Davis Law Firm. Our experienced DWI defense lawyers are ready to assist you.
Don’t let the outcome of a faulty BAC test cost you your money or freedom. Reach out to our skilled and knowledgeable drunk driving defense lawyers today. Protect your legal rights with the assistance you need.
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