Stiffer DWI Penalties this New Year's Eve - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/30/03

Stiffer DWI Penalties this New Year's Eve

It's New Year's Eve. You've had a few drinks. If you're thinking about driving home, some new laws might make you reconsider.

Penalties depend on how many times you've been convicted for driving while intoxicated. Fines range from $2,000-$10,000. You would spend anywhere from 3 days to 2 years behind bars and have your driver's license suspended for 90 days to 2 years.

But September 1, lawmakers passed House Bill 3588. Now that means even steeper fines for drunk drivers in Texas. A first-time DWI charge could land you a $1,000 annual surcharge on your license fees, for 3 years. Get charged a second time, and you'll have to pay an additional $1,500. That adds up to $2,500 total. Multiply that by 3 years, and you're looking at $7,500 in extra fines.

Troopers will be out in full force this New Year's Eve, cracking down on drunk drivers.

"If they're going to be going to one of the parties, then get a designated driver, or spend the night there, find a taxi, do anything that you can to not be the one that has to drive home," Trooper Jean Steely, Tyler Department of Public Safety, said.

So what happens if you get pulled over? If an officer asks you to take a blood or breath test to measure alcohol in your system, and you refuse, your license will be automatically suspended for 180 days.

In Texas, the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is .08. But the DPS says drivers can be stopped and cited if their driving is impaired by any alohol or drugs.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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