Driving drunk is never a good idea, and drivers in Texas or any other state stand to suffer unpleasant and costly penalties if convicted. Depending on how many times a driver has been convicted of drunken driving, penalties in Texas range from fines, treatment programs and community service to license suspension and jail time. A conviction continues to haunt drivers after they have completed all the penalties, through increased insurance rates.
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DWI Laws in Texas
In the state of Texas, a driver is considered legally intoxicated in Texas if he has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above. He risks being arrested for a DWI, or driving while under the influence, and minors can be arrested in Texas for a BAC of .02, while commercial drivers may not legally drive with a BAC of .04 or above. Texas upholds the implied consent law, which means that by operating a vehicle on public roads or highways, a driver has implied, by his action, his consent to complete a breath, blood or urine sample to check for the presence of alcohol or drugs. Drivers who refuse testing are subjected to similar penalties as those for a DWI conviction.
A DWI conviction in Texas will stay on a driver's record forever and will affect his insurance rates for several years. Texas law allows the DWI to be expunged from a person's record if certain specific conditions are met, although if the person had his license suspended or revoked, the record of these events will not be removed.
According to J. Gary Trichter, a Texas attorney specializing in DWI litigation, a driver's auto insurance costs may possibly quadruple if he is convicted of a DWI. Even though the DWI conviction remains on a driver's record forever, insurance companies will weigh the conviction less over time and reduce insurance rates accordingly. It is difficult to determine how long a DWI conviction will affect a specific person's insurance rates, since many other factors help determine insurance premiums over time, such as whether a driver maintains a clean driving record after his conviction, chooses a car with high safety ratings and drives fewer miles each year. Additionally, the driver's age and gender factor into the insurance rate calculation.
SR-22 in Texas
An SR-22 filing is required in Texas to enforce liability insurance requirements for drivers who have had driving issues in the past, including a DWI. Texas and most other states have minimum legal requirements for auto liability insurance which must be maintained to fulfill the SR-22 requirements. The SR-22 filing allows drivers to avoid receiving a license suspension or regain their license after a suspension. The filing must be maintained for two years, and insurers usually place these individuals in a high-risk driver category for at least the two-year SR-22 period. This results in higher insurance rates for at least two years and also prevents the driver from receiving certain policy discounts such as the "good driver" discount, increasing the cost of the coverage.