Texas DUI Laws

Texas drivers over 21 cannot have a BAC of 0.08% or higher or they’ll be charged with a DUI. Minors cannot have any detectable alcohol in their bloodstream.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Edited by Jessica Barrett
Texas DWI laws state that drivers over 21 years of age cannot have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher and there is a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. If caught driving under the influence, you’ll face fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension.
  • Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal in Texas.
  • There is a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21.
  • A first offense for a DUI in Texas involves a fine, jail time, and driver’s license suspension.
  • A DUI conviction stays on your driving record forever and will impact your
    Texas car insurance
    rates for years.

Texas DUI laws

In Texas, operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher is illegal. 
There is no threshold for underage drivers as the state has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking. If underage drivers are caught with any detectable amount of alcohol in their blood, they can be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by a Minor (DUIA by a Minor).
Take note: Driving isn’t always necessary for a DWI charge. As long as an impaired driver is enabling the use of the motor vehicle in some way, a police officer can levy a DWI.
Every state has an implied consent law stipulating that you consent to be tested if you’re suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you’re lawfully arrested for a DWI, you must submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. You do not have a right to consult with a lawyer before completing the test.

A Texas DUI can lead to fines and jail time

If you’re arrested for drunk driving, criminal penalties will apply if you’re found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt during a trial. Texas DUI penalties vary, becoming more severe with repeat DWI offenses. 
  • DWIs are treated as a class A misdemeanor for the first two offenses or incidents that do not result in serious injury or death or involve underage passengers
  • DWIs become felonies on the third offense, if they involve minor passengers under 18, or if they result in severe injury or death
Check out the table below for a summary of the DWI penalties in Texas.
Jail time
Dricer’s license suspension
First offense
Up to $2,000 ($4,000 with BAC .15% or more)
72 hours to six months (12 months with a BAC at or higher than 0.15%)
90 days to 12 months
Second offense
Up to $4,000
30 days to 12 months
180 days to 2 years
Third offense
2 to 10 years
180 days to 2 years
You may also be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your car, complete community service or a driving education program, or have a
Texas SR-22

A DUI will stay on your Texas driving record forever

A DUI will always appear on your driving record—but the duration depends on where you live. Some states have a "wash-out" or "look-back" period where convictions before the wash-out period don't count. 
Texas doesn’t have a wash-out period for DUIs, which means they’ll stay on your
Texas driving record
forever and count as a prior conviction.

Your car insurance costs will increase after a DUI

Insurance companies take DWIs very seriously and you’ll be classified as a
high-risk driver
going forward.
With a DWI on your record, you can reasonably expect that insurance carriers will charge you significantly higher rates for
car insurance
—or refuse to insure you entirely. On average, insurance rates increase by about 80% after a DUI.
Your insurance carrier must also complete an SR-22 to prove you have the mandated
Texas minimum insurance coverage
If you need to find affordable coverage after a serious violation, it’s a good idea to shop around. A
licensed online broker
can help you compare rates from multiple companies in minutes and without any long forms, phone calls, or hassles.


The penalties for a DUI/DWI for the first time in Texas include a fine of up to $2,000, up to a 180-day jail sentence (72 hours are mandatory) if you get a DWI conviction, and a driver’s license suspension for up to one year. You’ll also see a rise in car insurance for as long as the DUI stays on your driving record, and you may have a Texas SR-22 requirement.
You might be able to refuse a breathalyzer test in Texas if you’re stopped for driving under the influence.
In some situations, blood alcohol content testing is mandatory, such as if you are involved in an accident involving serious injury or death, have a prior conviction for intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter, two prior DUI convictions, or one prior DUI conviction with a child passenger.
Texas’s implied consent law doesn't require drivers to take a chemical test before a lawful arrest—but if you refuse one post-arrest, you’ll face 180 days of driver’s license suspension for a first offense and two years driver’s license suspension if you’ve had at least one alcohol or drug-related "enforcement contact" within the last 10 years.
In most cases, you won’t be able to get out of a DUI in Texas. Statistics show that drivers who plead guilty have little chance of having their case dismissed. Pleading not guilty has a 15% chance of case dismissal and a 30% chance of being convicted of a lesser charge.
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