Drunk driving is treated very seriously in Texas. As a result, it is important for someone who is facing drunk driving charges to have a grasp on the law and what the penalties entail. The state has implemented a new law that will affect all people who have been convicted of DWI. This law was signed in June and came into effect earlier this month. It requires all drivers to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles if they want to regain their driving privileges after being arrested for drunk driving.
The well-known group Mothers Against Drunk Driving had lobbied for the new law. Before, ignition interlock devices were only used on drivers who had had previous drunk driving convictions or had a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher when they were arrested. This new law applies to all DWI offenders and its elements have been recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NHTSA states that 40 percent of the traffic deaths that happen in the state are the result of a drunk driver. In 2013, Texas had the highest number of deaths due to DWI in the country.
The suspension of driving privileges was one of the main penalties for drivers who were convicted of DWI, but advocates for the ignition interlock feel the device is a greater deterrent. Now, the device will be installed if a driver is arrested for the first time and convicted with a BAC of .08 percent or higher and they drive after their license has been suspended. Before, many drivers were able to regain their license without the device.
Although reducing drunk driving accidents is a noble endeavor, drivers who are arrested and charged also have rights. The ignition interlock device and other penalties such as license suspensions, fines and even jail time can lead to severe hardships for drivers. Those who have been arrested and charged with a DWI can discuss their case with a qualified attorney in order to understand their right to a strong DWI defense.
Source: yourhoustonnews.com, "New drunk driving law takes effect in Texas," Sep. 2, 2015