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Texas DUI Laws

Under Texas law there are four distinct driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated offenses.  The first is simply as driving while intoxicated, and is a class B misdemeanor. A motorist commits this offense by being intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Intoxication is defined legally by the state as not having control of mental and bodily functions due to alcohol, drugs, controlled substances, dangerous drugs, other bodily substances or any combination of two or more of those substances; or by possessing a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of .08 or above. The second offense is an intoxicated assault, and is a felony in the third degree. A motorist commits this offense by operating a motor vehicle in a public place and by reason of intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another by accident or mistake. Serious bodily injured is defined legally as an injury which has a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement or causing prolonged dysfunction in any bodily member or organ. If you have been involved in a DUI accident which involved serious bodily injury, you should certainly contact a DWI lawyer. The third is intoxication manslaughter, and is a felony in the second degree. A motorist commits this offense by operating a vehicle in a public place and by reason of intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake. The fourth and final offense is an administrative license revocation, an administrative DUI, which a motorist is subject to by either failing or refusing to take submit to a chemical test at the behest of a law enforcement official. This offense is not a criminal but rather a civil proceeding that usually results in the suspension of the motorist’s license.

Subsequently, there are special circumstances which lead to enhanced punishments for any of the offenses illustrated above. Special circumstances include a particularly high blood alcohol content level, having a minor under the age of fifteen in the vehicle at the time of the offense, and refusing to submit to a chemical test as opposed to merely failing one. Additionally the commission of intoxicated manslaughter or intoxicated assault where the victim is a member of emergency services and within his or her official capacity raises the degree of each of the felony charges. Finally, previous convictions of any of these offenses enhance the sentences of any subsequent offenses raising both the maximum and minimum sentences and the criminal classification of the offense (e.g. class of the misdemeanor or the degree of the felony).


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