New Texas DWI Laws on Drinking and Driving and other Offenses
DWI "SURCHARGE" - applies only to convictions obtained after September 1, 2003
The Texas Department of Public Safety will assess a yearly "surcharge" (for up to three years) on the drivers license of anyone who has been convicted of DWI within the preceding thirty-six months. The amount of the surchage is as follows:
1. $1000 per year- if no prior DWI convictions in the preceding thirty-six months, and provided that an alcohol concentration level of less than 0.16 is not proved at trial.
2. $1500 per year- if there has been a DWI conviction within the preceding thirty-six months.
3. $2000 per year- if proved at trial that an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or greater existed at the time that the analysis was performed.
ORDER OF NONDISCLOSURE
You may now be able to seal your criminal record. An Order of Nondisclosure is a legal procedure through which, under certain circumstances, a court order can be obtained which prohibits government agencies from disclosing the existence of your criminal case. This remedy is available for both misdemeanors and felonies.
OBSCURED LICENSE PLATES
You may already be breaking this law, and not even know it! If your license plate frame "alters or obscures the letters or numbers on the plate, the color of the plate, or another original design feature of the plate", you could be found guilty of a Class "C" misdemeanor, and subject to a fine of up to $200 plus court costs. Look around... many of the license plate frames you see would seem to be in violation of this law. Yours may be one of them!
AIMING A "LASER POINTER" AT A UNIFORMED SAFETY OFFICER
Hopefully, you do not feel compelled to break this law. However, laser fiends beware! If you zap a "safety officer" (a peace officer, security guard, firefighter, emergency medical service worker, or other uniformed municipal, state, or federal officer), you could charged with a Class "C" misdemeanor.
"POINT" SYSTEM FOR CERTAIN TRAFFIC OFFENSES
Certain traffic convictions will cause "points" to accrue against you. For example, "moving violation" convictions will result in two points being credited toward your driving record (three, if the violation resulted in an accident).
The Texas Department of Public Safety will assess a yearly "surcharge" on the drivers license of anyone who has accumulated six or more points during the preceding thirty-six months. The surcharge is $100 for the first six points, and $25 for each additional point. For each conviction of driving without your license, the surcharge is $100. If you are convicted of driving with an invalid license, a suspended license, or for "no insurance", the surcharge is $250.
PASSING EMERGENCY VEHICLES
On approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle using visual signals (e.g. sirens), drivers must vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle when driving on a highway with two or more lanes, or slow to a speed not to exceed 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or more. This offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1 to $200 (or a MANDATORY fine of $500 if the violation results in property damage), or a Class B misdemeanor if the violation results in bodily injury.
Prior to September 1, 2003, "racing" was a Class C misdemeanor, regardless of the circumstances, and punishable by fine only. Now, the seriousness of a given "racing" offense is determined as follows:
1. Class B misdemeanor- first offense (so long as the defendant is not proven at trial to have been DWI or in possession of an "open container" during the race).
2. Class A misdemeanor- if previously convicted of racing, or if DWI, or if in possession of an "open container" during the race.
3. State jail felony- if previously convicted of racing two or more times.
4. Third degree felony- if an individual suffers bodily injury as a result of the offense.
5. Second degree felony- if an individual suffers serious bodily injury or death as a result of the offense.