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Be safe: Avoid drinking and driving in Texas

Like anywhere in the United States, drinking and driving is frowned on in Texas. When you're over the limit or obviously impaired, you can face harsh penalties following an arrest.

In Texas, someone is hurt or killed approximately every 20 minutes due to crashes involving alcohol. With so much at risk, it is important for people to know how much is too much to be safe to drive.

How much alcohol is too much alcohol to drive?

There is no standard amount that you can go by. Instead, the amount you can drink before hitting the legal limit is influenced by your gender, body weight, the food you've had to eat and the way your body metabolizes alcohol. Younger and smaller people tend to become intoxicated more quickly than larger people. Women tend to become intoxicated more quickly than men.

Can you be arrested for a DWI if your blood alcohol content is under .08%?

Technically, you can. If your BAC is under .08% but you are acting intoxicated or show signs of impairment, the officer may arrest you. The charge could be dismissed or reduced to a non-alcohol traffic offense, depending on the circumstances, but in the meantime you will still face a serious legal problem.

What's the penalty for a DWI?

The penalties for DWIs depend on the number of offenses and what was happening at the time of this offense. For instance, if you refuse the breath test, you'll lose your license automatically for 180 days. If you don't but are convicted of a first offense DWI, you'll face fines of up to $2,000 and annual fees up to $2,000 to retain your license. You'll lose your license for up to a year and may face up to 180 days in jail.

Second and third offenses are more serious than a first, and you face thousands in fines. Second offenses come with fines of up to $4,000, while third offenses come with fines of up to $10,000. Jail sentences also extend from one month to a year for a second offense and up to 10 years for a third offense. Annual fees are common with any offense, requiring you to pay if you want to retain your license.

No matter what the situation is, if you are charged with a DWI, it's in your best interests to defend yourself from the start. DWIs can significantly impact you financially and threaten your freedoms. And remember this important fact: a significant number of DWI arrests result in something other than convictions. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible to learn about your defense options.

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