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Texas Senate Passes Bill Giving First-Time DWI Offenders an Interlock Option

Texas Governor Greg Abbott will soon face the decision whether to sign a bill creating an ignition interlock device option for first-time recipients of a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction.

The bill recently passed both chambers of the state legislature and is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature, according to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News.

Currently, drivers who are convicted of a first-time DWI in Texas face a suspension of their driver’s license, in addition to other potential penalties like jail time, fines and mandatory alcohol counseling. If the recently passed bill becomes law, drivers will be able to retain their driving privileges if they agree to – and pay for – the installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. A judge will still make the final decision regarding whether the interlock device will be allowed for any particular driver.

Currently, ignition interlock devices in Texas are an option only for drivers with multiple DWI convictions or drivers who had a very high blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The bill, if enacted, would make ignition interlock devices an option for all drivers facing a DWI conviction.

An ignition interlock device is wired directly into the ignition of the vehicle. The driver must provide a breath sample to the device before attempting to start the car. If the device detects alcohol in the sample, the vehicle will not start.

Although an ignition interlock device provides driving options to individuals who might otherwise be banned from operating a vehicle, it imposes additional obstacles and costs. The financial cost of having the device installed, monitored and removed is the responsibility of the driver, who may also face steep fines and court fees after a DWI conviction. While the device is in place, the driver must also bring the vehicle back to the installer repeatedly to have the device’s data downloaded.

Restoration of your driving privileges after a DWI arrest or conviction can be a complex process. However, you always have the option in Texas to work with an experienced DWI defense lawyer who can build the best possible case for restoring your driving privileges without the additional burden of an ignition interlock device.


I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law, Social Security Disability, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning for Long Term Care, and VA Benefits.

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