In Texas, a DUI charge is a serious offense. If a court convicts you of DUI, you could face penalties that range from a fine to imprisonment, or even a complete loss of your driving privileges. In most cases, you’ll have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) even after your first offense. It’s important to understand Texas laws and requirements for DUI Charges if you want to stay in compliance and move forward. But understanding the law can be difficult. While each case is unique, the following information applies to typical situations and can help guide you in what to expect.


Is it Legal to Drive? BAC Levels and Legality in Texas

In the state of Texas, it’s always illegal to drive if your BAC level is 0.08% or higher. This law applies to every driver in every situation. However, your age and other circumstances could subject you to even stricter limits.

  • Under 21 – If you’re under the age of 21, a BAC of 0.01% is illegal. If law enforcement pulls you over and you test at this level or higher, they will automatically consider it illegal because you are not at the legal drinking age. Texas has a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking since it’s illegal for you to be drinking in the first place. Therefore, any alcohol is illegal.
  • Under 18 – Any measurable sign of alcohol is illegal if you’re under 18. Any charges will probably be handled in the juvenile court system. Consult your attorney for information.
  • Commercial Vehicle – If law enforcement administers a sobriety test while you are driving a vehicle that requires a commercial license, any level above 0.04% is considered illegal due to the nature of commercial driving.

Circumstantial DUI Laws in Texas

Depending on how many offenses you’ve had prior to your current arrest, you’ll face various penalties in Texas ranging from fines to imprisonment. While every case is unique, Texas DUI law assigns legal implications to various circumstances.

First Offense

In the state of Texas, your first DUI offense can carry with it some steep penalties.

  • Fines of up to $2,000 in fines. If your BAC tested above 0.15% those fines can be up to $4,000.
  • License Suspension that can last from 90 days to a year, or up to two years if you refuse a BAC test
  • Imprisonment that can last anywhere from 72 hours to six months, or up to a year maximum if your BAC tested at 0.15% or higher.
  • IID Installation is available but only as a condition of obtaining an occupational or restricted license.

Second Offense

If a court convicts you for a second DUI or DWI charge in Texas, here’s what you could be facing.

  • Fines of up to $4,000.
  • License Suspension of 180 days to two years, or an immediate two-year suspension if you refuse the BAC test.
  • Imprisonment lasting from 30 days to a year.
  • Mandatory IID Installation of a year with any prior conviction in the last five years

Third Offense

If you receive your third DUI charge or conviction in Texas, DUI laws state that you could face any combination of the following penalties.

  • Fines of up to $10,000.
  • License Suspension of 180 days to two years, or an immediate two-year suspension if you refuse the BAC test.
  • Imprisonment that can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years.
  • Mandatory IID Installation of a year with any prior conviction in the last five years.

Special Restricted Driver’s Licenses in Texas

In Texas, you can obtain an occupational license if you had a BAC level of less than 0.15% and are facing a license suspension. If you are deemed eligible for an occupational license, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in every vehicle you will be driving. You must remain in the IID program until your license is reinstated. In Texas, even after reinstating your license, you may have to pay up to $2,000 to maintain it. Consult your attorney for the most accurate information regarding your case.

IID Installation in Texas

If you are required to install an IID after being convicted of a DUI in Texas, the court will initiate the installation. Once you have the court order you can go to a state-approved and registered service provider for your IID installation. Depending on your county and unique situation, your court order may require you to have an IID installation that comes with a DMV connection. Only a state-approved and registered service provider will be able to fulfill the court order and help you get back on track.

Just because you install an IID doesn’t mean you automatically have your driving privileges back, though. You’ll still have to go through legal proceedings that may or may not require you to obtain a special restricted driver’s license in order to drive. Most programs allow you to go to work, school, and important appointments, such as doctor’s appointments or taking your kids to school, but they may restrict where and when you can drive.

While the information reflected here is current as of this writing, laws do change from time to time and unique circumstances may change the penalties and requirements that you’re subject to.