Technically, you are allowed to drink and drive in the state of Texas. Yes, that’s right! You can have a certain amount of alcohol in your system and still get behind the wheel without facing legal action from enforcement officers.
But this technicality has its limits.
How much alcohol you can have in your system at any time while being behind the wheel matters. If you exceed the limit, you can get arrested and face many life-altering consequences. But here’s where things get complicated because the quantity of alcohol in your body that can get you arrested for driving is not a fixed number at all. It depends on your body weight and is different for different alcoholic beverages.
This article will discuss how blood alcohol content works, what the consequences of driving while intoxicated are, and what is your best course of action if you are caught driving drunk.
How Does Blood Alcohol Content Work?
Driving when you are under the influence of alcohol can not only endanger your life but also those around you. To decide whether a person was capable of safely driving, the court largely relies on their blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of driving. The higher the BAC, the more intoxicated you are.
Your blood alcohol concentration can be determined with breath, blood, and urine tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) has also come up with a series of field sobriety tests that the enforcement officers can conduct to estimate your blood alcohol reading. When conducted together in the correct manner, these three tests can help confirm if the person has a blood-alcohol chart number higher than 0.08% with 83% accuracy.
But an experienced Austin DWI Lawyer knows that most of the officers don’t conduct the tests properly and their accuracy is always up for question. So, the best course of action in case of an arrest for DWI or DUI is to contact an Austin DWI lawyer immediately.
Blood Alcohol Level Chart
To help you figure out your BAC, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has created a Blood Alcohol Level Chart (See below). This blood alcohol concentration chart represents the effect of alcoholic beverages on your BAC as per your body weight. Eg., if a man with a body weight of 160 pounds has one drink, his BAC level will go up to 0.02%, and a second drink will make it 0.5%. Please note that your capacity of holding a drink does not affect your BAC in any way.
Since there are various other factors in play that determine your actual level of impairment, it is advised that you shouldn’t solely rely on the blood alcohol level chart to decide if you are fit to drive. In fact, you should avoid going near the driver’s seat if you’ve had a few drinks.
Texas Penal Code §49.01 states that if your BAC is higher than 0.08%, you can be arrested for operating a vehicle in Texas. If you hold a commercial driver’s license, you will be arrested for driving any vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration is equal to or higher than 0.0.4%.
The laws are more strict for commercial vehicle drivers because of the probable risk posed by the size of vehicles operated by them. In fact, they can be subjected to BAC tests even without any cause to believe that they are intoxicated.
Understanding the BAC Chart
The number of drinks mentioned in the blood alcohol content chart refers to different quantities for different beverages. The chart recognizes that one ounce of whiskey will not cause the same level of impairment as one ounce of beer. So, one drink can mean 1.5 ounces of hard drink with 40% alcohol, 12 ounces beer (4.5%), or 5 ounces wine (12%).
One of the things to remember while calculating BAC is that our bodies slowly metabolize alcohol with time. So, you won’t be the same level of intoxicated after an hour as you were right after you had had the drink. This metabolization in turn reduces your BAC number by 0.015% for every hour you haven’t had any alcohol.
What BAC Means for Impairment
Everyone’s body reacts to alcohol differently, and everyone’s body metabolizes alcohol at a different rate. The chart above is a helpful tool to roughly determine your BAC chart number, but the fact remains that there are various factors it fails to consider. Many issues such as depression, genetics, diabetes, blood pressure, and muscle mass hugely affect your level of consciousness and your BAC.
You might also be taking some medications that affect how your body metabolizes alcohol. Therefore, it becomes extremely vital that you understand your body and consider all the risks before you make the decision to drive if you’ve had alcohol. Pay special attention to any prescribed medications as they may have a warning label on the bottle to not mix with alcohol.
DUI Laws in Texas
If you do decide to drive and an enforcement officer catches you, they can conduct a series of tests to determine your BAC number. If your BAC is higher than 0.08%, you’ll be charged with DWI laws and may have to pay a fine of up to $2000. You may also have to do time in the County jail for up to 180 days.
Texas has zero-tolerance towards underage drinking and driving. So, if you are younger than 21 years and your BAC turns out to be anything above 0 while driving, you will be charged with a DUI and may end up paying a huge amount in fine.
For both DWI and DUI, the punishment drastically increases in case of a repeat offense or if your BAC is over .15%.. For the second offense of DWI, the consequences can range from a fine up to $4,000, jail time up to a year, license suspension up to 2 years, and an ignition interlock device.
What To Do if You’re Facing a DUI or DWI Charge
Getting a DUI or a DWI in the state of Texas can have serious repercussions on your life. You may have to shell out a lot of money in fines and insurance surcharges, and still have to do jail time. Your troubles will multiply if you are charged with a repeat offense. You may also need to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to get your license back.
Austin DWI lawyer, James Gill can easily counter your charges in court and get you out of the situation with minimum to no damage. So, if you are caught by an enforcement officer with a BAC higher than 0.08%, you should immediately contact Austin Criminal lawyer, James Gill. Paying the fine can be an admission of guilt which will, in turn, leave a permanent mark on your criminal record.
Don’t make any hasty decisions that can leave you with a lot of long-term trouble. Call 512-448-4560 today to schedule a consultation with James Gill. We serve all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding Texas communities.