DWI with BAC over .15

Many people are aware that the legal blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Texas is 0.08, and a person who is operating a motor vehicle with a BAC at or above that limit will be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). DWI offenses involving BAC levels of 0.15 or higher can result in enhanced penalties.

In these types of cases, prosecutors are more reluctant to reduce criminal charges because there is less likelihood of a jury believing that an alleged offender did not know they were intoxicated. BAC levels of 0.15 or greater are often presented as being more dangerous and unacceptable than DWI offenses involving lower BAC levels.

If you were arrested for a DWI in the greater Dallas area and had a BAC of 0.15 or more, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. You will want to contact the Law Offices of RJ Harber as soon as possible.

RJ Harber is a former prosecuting attorney with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office who has more than a decade of experience handling DWI cases. Call (214) 389-1189 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free consultation.

What are the laws specific to BAC over .15?

Texas Penal Code § 49.01(1) defines alcohol concentration (more commonly referred to as BAC) as he number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, 100 milliliters of blood, or 67 milliliters of urine. Intoxicated is defined under Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2) 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
  • having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04(a), a person commits DWI when they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Texas Penal Code § 49.04(b) establishes that a DWI offense is typically a Class B misdemeanor with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours, but Texas Penal Code § 49.04(d) provides that an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more at the time analysis of a specimen of the person’s blood, breath, or urine was performed, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

What are the penalties?

Whereas a first-time Class B misdemeanor offense for DWI is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000, the possible penalties are essentially doubled when an alleged offender has a BAC of 0.15 or higher. When charged with a Class A misdemeanor, a conviction becomes punishable by:

  • Up to one year in jail; and/or
  • Fine of up to $4,000.

The consequences of a high BAC DWI do not end with incarceration and fines though. Alleged offenders in these cases will have their driver’s licenses suspended for 90 days for a first offense and one year for any subsequent offense.

On top of this, a person convicted of a DWI offense involving a BAC of 0.15 or more will also have to install an ignition interlock device on all vehicles they own or operate. The ignition interlock devices must be maintained for a full year after the suspension has ended.

Another consequence of a DWI conviction is the surcharges from the Texas Department of Safety (DPS) that must be paid annually for three years. Whereas most first offenses result in annual surcharges of $1,000 a year and second or subsequent offenses typically lead to annual surcharges of $1,500, a driver who is convicted of a DWI involving a BAC of 0.16 or more will have to pay an annual surcharge of $2,000.

Defending Against DWI Charges

In many cases involving a high BAC, the first issue that you will want to have investigated is the accuracy of the test. In certain cases, BAC test results can be inadmissible because of any one of numerous failures to follow procedures or regulations.

In most cases, people agree to submit to breath tests. Most breath tests are conducted roadside using portable tests and then performed again at the local police station.

All breathalyzers need to be regularly maintained in order to be accurate. Additionally, the person administering the test needs to be properly licensed.

When a BAC is obtained through a blood test, the sample again needs to be collected and tested be authorized medical personnel. Other mistakes in the handling or testing of blood samples can also contributed to false positives.

If a blood sample is drawn without the consent of the alleged offender, then there is usually some question about whether law enforcement was authorized to take such a sample. Texas Transportation Code § 724.012(b) establishes that a peace officer must require the taking of a specimen of the person’s breath or blood under any of the following circumstances when the officer arrests the person for an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle and the person refuses the officer’s request to submit to the taking of a specimen voluntarily:

  • the alleged offender was the operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury;
  • the alleged offender was arrested for DWI with a child passenger; or
  • the alleged offender has been previously convicted of or placed on community supervision for DWI with a child passenger, intoxication assault, or intoxication manslaughter, or a similar offense in another state; or
  • the alleged offender has on two or more occasions, been previously convicted of or placed on community supervision for DWI, flying while intoxicated, boating while intoxicated (BWI), or assembling or operating an amusement ride while intoxicated, or a similar offense in another state.

Were you arrested for a DWI with a BAC of 0.15 or higher in Dallas? You will want to quickly contact the Law Offices of RJ Harber.

RJ Harber has a wealth of experience with all kinds of DWI cases and can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have him provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (214) 389-1189 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.