Effective at the beginning of September, first-time drunk drivers who are pulled over and register a 0.15 blood alcohol content or higher may face more severe penalties, including a fine of up to $4000 and up to one year in jail. Penalties are doubled for cases of ‘extreme DWI’ now in Texas. If you drink and drive near or over twice the legal limit of 0.08, you will now face twice the penalty.
Prior to this change, a first-time offense was considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and $2000 in fines. An extreme DWI is now considered a Class B misdemeanor and the potential penalties are doubled. Texas DWI penalties also increase for repeat offenses.
The new, harsher penalties are aimed at individuals who are “clearly not social drinkers,” according to Representative Trey Martinez Fisher, D-San Antonio.
Extreme DWI Allows for Penalty Increases, Similar to the TX DRP
The Texas Driver Responsibility Program (TX DRP) requires that a person convicted of drunk driving pay a DWI surcharge for three years. The TX DRP doubles the amount of the annual surcharge if the conviction is for drunk-driving with a blood alcohol content of .16 or greater. That is up to an additional $6000, on top of the $4000 for the extreme DWI, for a grand total of up to $10000 in fines alone for a first-time DWI offense.
In addition to the criminal fines and the DRP surcharges, you may face court fees, license reinstatement fees and probation fees. A DWI in Texas is not cheap. An experienced Houston DWI lawyer can fully explain the penalties you may face as well as develop a defense strategy to fight the charges against you.
No specific numbers have been reported related to Houston extreme DWI enforcement. San Antonio police reported that at least 30 people were charged with extreme DWI in Bexar County in the first weekend after it became law.
Source: “Extreme DWI law now in effect,” 3 September 2011