Driving While Intoxicated

Resources

One of the most serious consequences of the over-service or over-consumption of alcoholic beverages is accidents resulting from driving while intoxicated.

For more information about driving while intoxicated, visit these websites:

Texas Department of Transportation - TexasDWI.org
US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
MADD
Jacqui Saburido

Texas DWI Laws

Driving Under the Influence - Minors

Section 106.041 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code makes it illegal for a minor to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system. Driving under the influence is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500, an alcohol awareness course, community service, and driver’s license suspension.

Driving While Intoxicated

Section 49.04 of the Penal Code states that a person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.

Driving While Intoxicated with an Open Container

Section 49.04 of the Penal Code also states that driving while intoxicated while the driver had an open container of alcohol in the person's immediate possession is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days.

Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Passenger

Section 49.045 of the Penal Code states that driving while intoxicated while the vehicle being is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age is a state jail felony.

Definition of Intoxication

Section 49.01(2)(a) of the Penal Code defines intoxication as "not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; OR (b) having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more."

Open Container Law (Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in a Motor Vehicle)

Section 49.031 of the Penal Code says that a person commits an offense if the person knowingly possesses an open container in a passenger area of a motor vehicle that is located on a public highway, regardless of whether the vehicle is being operated or is stopped or parked. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.

It is an exception if at the time of the offense the person was a passenger in:

  1. the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, including a bus, taxicab, or limousine; or
  2. the living quarters of a motorized house coach or motorized house trailer, including a self-contained camper, a motor home, or a recreational vehicle.

Definitions

  • "Open container" means a bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and that is open, that has been opened, that has a broken seal, or the contents of which are partially removed.
  • "Passenger area of a motor vehicle" means the area of a motor vehicle designed for the seating of the operator and passengers of the vehicle. The term does not include:
    1. a glove compartment or similar storage container that is locked;
    2. the trunk of a vehicle; or
    3. the area behind the last upright seat of the vehicle, if the vehicle does not have a trunk.
  • "Public highway" means the entire width between and immediately adjacent to the boundary lines of any public road, street, highway, interstate, or other publicly maintained way if any part is open for public use for the purpose of motor vehicle travel. The term includes the right-of-way of a public highway.