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Changes to Texas Drunk Driving Law Effective September 1, 2019

Texas has had an all-offender law in place for DWI (driving while impaired) offenses since 2015. During the 2019 legislative session many states strengthened their drunk driving related laws even further, including the state of Texas.

New Legal Provision for Texas DWI

The new deferred adjudication bill will go into effect in Texas on September 1, 2019. This update to DWI laws will allow some offenders to avoid a legal conviction for a first-time offense. In order to do so, offenders must enter into the deferred adjudication program and then must complete an ignition interlock period successfully.

Why a diversion program uses ignition interlock devices?

An ignition interlock device (called an IID) is a breathalyzer that is installed in a vehicle and prevents a driver from starting their car if their BrAC (breath alcohol content) level is at a level of impairment. Ignition interlock devices are the only way to prevent a drunk driver from operating their vehicle and have been endorsed by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) as the most effective way to keep roads safe.

How does deferred adjudication help drunk drivers and keep roads safe?

This addition to Texas law will recognize the efforts of drunk drivers to change their habits and prove they have done so by completing their ignition interlock programs with no violations. What this means is that the judge holds off on issuing a guilty verdict on the offense. Once defendant has successfully completed their IID program, then the charges are dismissed.

However, if a driver happens to be arrested for a second DWI offense, they will be still be treated as a repeat offender. With a repeat offense, the license suspension will still be enforced.

“This program is a big win for everyone. If a person truly mends their ways and proves it by completing the interlock program without a violation, they will not have a criminal conviction on their record, said Brad Fralick, Director of External Affairs for Intoxalock. “This law is expected to greatly increase the interlock program numbers for those people looking for a second chance.”

Is the Texas deferred adjudication bill retroactive?

The DWI deferred adjudication legal provision will go into effect in Texas on the 1st of September and is not retroactive. This means that it is not an option for prior DWI offenses, and that those offenders are subject to the prior laws.

Will all new DWI offenses be eligible for the IID diversion program?

The new law provision does exclude certain DWI cases from being eligible for deferred adjudication. Individuals who have the following circumstances will not be eligible for the IID program:

  • If BrAC or BAC (blood alcohol content) levels are at .15 or higher at the point of arrest
  • The driver has a commercial license endorsement
  • The driver has a commercial learner’s permit

Intoxalock Can Help

If you’re convicted of a DUI, Intoxalock can help you regain your driving privileges. We have been installing IIDs in Texas for more than 25 years and have over 290 installation centers in the state. Go here to get a free quote.


Category: Legislation

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