Will Texas Lower the Legal Limit?

Under Texas law, you are considered legally intoxicated if your blood alcohol concentration is over 0.08. According to a recent media story, however, advocates are pushing for Texas to lower that limit to 0.05.

And there is precedent for this type of move: Utah. The great state of Utah has recently lowered its limit to 0.05 as a way to combat drunk driving. The state found that any identifiable amount of alcohol in the blood was connected to impaired driver performance, and a BAC of 0.05 was associated with substantial impairment. The new 0.05 limit is similar to the limit for CDL drivers of 0.04.

Will Texas follow Utah’s lead? Sadly, our state sees many drunk driving accidents and deaths. Perhaps lowering the legal limit would reduce the number of collisions and improve safety. However, a lower legal limit means that many more drivers could potentially face DWI charges even if they do not think their driving was impaired.

DWI Deaths Motivate Activists

Although Texas legislators have sounded no willingness to drop the legal limit, political pressure is building. Our state has seen many high profile DWI deaths in the past couple of months. For example, a Dallas Police officer was recently killed in a head-on collision by a potential drunk driver. And a drunk driver struck and killed a six-year-old in Southwest Houston—just one of many DWI deaths in the Houston area.

Indeed, drunk driving is responsible for about 25% of all traffic fatalities in Texas, resulting in the deaths of nearly 1,000 people. These facts have prompted advocates to demand that Texas step up the fight against drunk driving. They credit our ignition interlock device and open container laws but say the time is ripe to lower the legal limit.

They also recommend improving technology in vehicles, which is already happening. This year, the National Transportation Safety Board called for all vehicles to include Alcohol Detection Systems. These passive systems typically operate by measuring the alcohol concentration in the breath a person normally exhales while driving. Many car manufacturers are heeding the call already, and Congress included a mandate in the 2021 infrastructure bill that should spring into effect in 2026.

Stay Tuned

At Tad Nelson & Associates, we pay close attention to changes in DWI law so that we can provide the best services to our clients. Our best guess is that Texas won’t lower the legal limit any time soon. This type of move would probably bring opposition from the alcohol industry and others. Instead, we expect the state to continue its aggressive enforcement of its existing laws.

If you’ve been pulled over for drunk driving, give us a call. Our legal team can help you understand your legal options. A DWI arrest is not the end of the world, but you need an experienced lawyer to help you get a fair resolution to your case. It is possible to avoid jail and keep your ability to drive—but you must act as soon as possible. Contact us today to get started on your defense.