In the state of Texas, drug and alcohol offenses carry a variety of charges and consequences.
Although drunk driving and drug offenses are some of the most common Texas crimes, they are still serious offenses. Offenders found guilty can expect a criminal conviction to come with fines, probation and significant periods of incarceration.
Here's what you need to know about Texas’s drug and intoxication laws.
Anytime a person operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated in a public place, it is considered drunk driving. There are two ways to be considered intoxicated. First, you can drive a motor vehicle with less than full use of your physical and mental abilities because of alcohol or drugs. Second, you can operate a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol level is at .08 or more.
At the most basic level, drunk driving is a class B misdemeanor. A person convicted of drunk driving can expect to spend at least seventy-two hours in jail while the maximum period of incarceration is 180 days. Penalties also include hefty fines and license suspension that ranges from ninety days to one year.
The state's drug and intoxication laws punish repeat offenders and certain behaviors even more harshly. If you have one prior conviction for drunk driving, you spend at least thirty days in jail. In addition, the state can suspend your driver's license for up to two years.
For a third conviction, a drunk driving offense is considered a third-degree felony. You face a minimum term of incarceration for two years with a maximum term of ten years in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
If your drunk driving seriously injures or kills someone, you could face a mandatory two-year prison sentence. If it's your third drunk driving conviction and you have previous penitentiary incarceration, you face enhanced minimum sentences or up to life in prison.
Other possible punishments for even first-time offenders may be added, depending on the events of the case. If there's a child in the car when you drive drunk, you face a state jail felony and a minimum term of six months.
A blood-alcohol level of .15 or higher may also be grounds for additional penalties. Having an open container increases the minimum jail time to six days. For each offense, it's important to explore every possible criminal defense.
Possession of Marijuana
The penalty for marijuana possession varies depending on the amount of marijuana a person is carrying. The lowest amounts are punishable by up to 180 days in jail. The more marijuana the police find, the greater the penalty. Amounts of more than 2,000 pounds are punishable by life in prison. The state can also revoke the driver's license.
Another serious offense is the sale of marijuana. Again, depending on the amount, offenders can expect to face a one-year maximum term in jail up to a life sentence. It should be noted that there are enhanced penalties for selling to a minor.
Possession of Drugs
While all drug offenses are serious, the exact penalties depend on the amount and type of drug in one’s possession. The least serious offenses are state jail felonies, resulting in anywhere from 180 days to two years in a state jail facility.
Minor in Possession
A first offense for a minor in possession is considered a class C misdemeanor. There's no jail time on the table, but a minor may have to pay a fine and attend education classes that explore the reasons for the state's drug and intoxication laws. For repeat offenders, the state has the option to assign jail time. Community service and a driver's license suspension are other options available to the court.
Public intoxication is punishable by a fine unless the offender is a minor. A minor may be required to attend an alcohol awareness program.
If you or someone you love is facing a drug or intoxication offense charge, the Neal Davis Law Firm can help. We specialize in numerous areas of criminal law including drug possession. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we can assist in your case.