When you are convicted of a DWI charge, whether it was your first, second or third offense, there will be several serious penalties and fines that you will have to deal with-court fees, community service, possible jail time, probation, etc. Understanding the rules and restrictions of each of these different penalties can be both confusing and overwhelming if you do not have an experienced DWI lawyer to help you along the way.

It’s also important to understand that, if you do not take proper preventative measures early on, the severity of these penalties can increase with the amount of alcohol-related incidents you have on your record. This is because the state of Texas determines the severity of its DWI penalties based on whether or not it is an individual’s first DWI charge.

One such DWI penalty that you may be faced with if you’ve already had prior convictions on your record is the requirement of an ignition interlock device.

This sobriety test is similar to a Breathalyzer in the fact that it detects whether or not a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is at or above the legal limit of .08. However, unlike a portable breathalyzer test, an ignition interlock device is a small breath alcohol detector (about the size of a cell phone) that is attached to a car’s ignition. In order to start a car that has an ignition interlock device attached, a person must blow a clean breath sample below .08.

If a person blows into an ignition interlock device and has a BAC level of .08 or higher, they will not be able to start or drive their vehicle. However, Texas state law does not require that all people convicted of DWIs receive an ignition interlock device on their car. Here is a little more information about Texas Ignition Interlock laws:

How Does An Ignition Interlock Device Work?

An ignition interlock device is designed to prevent an alcohol-impaired driver (someone with a BAC level at or above .08) from starting and operating their motor vehicle that is equipped with the device. Once a person blow clean air into the ignition interlock, they will be required to submit periodic breath tests every 20 minutes. This is to prevent a person from enlisting a sober friend to start the car for them.

The interlock also maintains a record of successful and failed breath tests. They are also specially designed to prevent any tampering of the device. If the ignition interlock device shows that someone has attempted to tamper or circumvent the device, this could result in imposition of further penalties.

Who Requires an Ignition Interlock Device?

Generally in Texas, most judges will not assign an ignition interlock device to someone on their first DWI offense unless their breath/blood tests indicated an intoxication level that was at or above .15. However, if you are charged with intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter (no matter how much above .08 BAC you were), you will be required by law to install an Ignition Interlock Device in your automobile.

For a second or subsequent offenses of a BAC of more than .15, the court will order the DWI offender to install an ignition interlock device on all of their motor vehicles for one year following the end of their license suspension.

Whether it is your first alcohol-related offense or you have several DWIs on your record, it is always important to enlist the help of an experienced DWI lawyer for your case. This will help to insure that your record is not significantly impacted by the related charges and that you only receive the necessary amount of penalties for your conviction.