New Texas Drunk Driving Law: First-Time DWI Offenders Now Need Ignition Interlocks to Stay on the Road

New Texas Drunk Driving Law

New Texas Drunk Driving Law First-Time DWI Offenders Now Need Ignition Interlocks to Stay on the Road. A new Texas law means that even first-time DWI offenders in Texas may find themselves installing ignition interlock devices on their cars if they want to keep driving.

We all know that we shouldn’t drink and drive and we all know that the consequences can be tragic. Every year, the lives of tens of thousands of Texans are catastrophically impacted by drunk driving. In 2013 alone, according to MADD:

  • 1,337 people were killed in drunk driving incidents in Texas, the most in the nation
  • 15,687 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes on Texas’ roads and highways
  • There were 25,479 alcohol-related accidents in the state
  • 99,195 people were arrested for DWI
  • 71,030 people were convicted for DWI

Many of those drivers charged or convicted for DWI were likely facing such charges for the first time. If no one was injured or killed, the penalties they faced for a first-offense DWI may not necessarily have included jail time, though the other consequences and the stain on their standing and reputation were hardly inconsequential.

But the injuries and deaths that can be caused by drunk driving are the same whether the driver has never faced DWI charges before or whether they have been convicted multiple times. That’s why even first-time offenders face a driver’s license suspension upon arrest.

As of September 1, 2015, however, those arrested for a first-offense Texas DWI can continue to drive so long as they install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they drive. The new law requires first-time DWI offenders whose blood alcohol content was under 0.15 percent to install these Breathalyzer-like devices in their cars if they apply to drive during the license suspension period after their arrest. The option is not available if the driver’s BAC was above 0.15 percent.

Previously, Texas law only required the installation of ignition interlocks for repeat DWI offenders who applied to drive after their second or subsequent arrest for DWI.

While it may seem like giving those suspected of DWI another way to get back on the road would increase the chances of more drunk driving incidents, MADD, which actively pushed for the new law, believes that requiring the devices will actually decrease the likelihood of new incidents because so many people whose licenses had been suspended were driving anyway. Now, the hope is that those wishing to stay on the road legally will opt for the interlocks which will keep their car from starting if their BAC is 0.08 or above. Let’s hope so.

If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one in a car accident, whether caused by a drunk driver or not, you have rights which may include recovering compensation. At Greening Law, P.C. in Dallas, we are dedicated to protecting the rights and futures of those whose lives have been turned upside down due to injuries caused by others. Pease give us a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to discuss your situation. We look forward to assisting you.