Driving under the influence in Texas is not only dangerous, it is a federal offense for which you may need the help of criminal defense lawyers. Yet what if you only had one drink, can you still drive afterwards?

This is a common question that many defense lawyers are asked. Although the technical answer to this question may be simple, criminal defense attorneys warn that there is more to this answer than a simple yes or no.

Can You Legally Drive After Drinking in Texas?

According to Texas state law, anyone with a blood alcohol level (BAC) over .08 while driving is considered intoxicated and can be arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). What this means is that unless your BAC reaches this level, driving after consuming alcohol is not illegal.

Criminal defense lawyers stress that before you can be charged with DWI, there must be proof that you actually were driving while intoxicated.

How Is Intoxication Determined?

To prove impairment and driving under the influence of alcohol, defense lawyers point out there are two specific methods that can be used to determine intoxication and whether you were driving illegally:

  • Blood Alcohol Level - If your BAC is found to be over the legal limit of .08, you are considered to be legally intoxicated, regardless of your mental and physical condition at the time.
  • Mental and Physical Functions - If you exhibit a loss of mental clarity or display physical signs of impairment such as poor coordination or loss of balance after consuming alcohol, you can also be considered legally intoxicated. Still, without an actual BAC reading, this determination can be challenged in court

As simple as these two methods may sound, criminal defense attorneys say this is not the case. Even though it is not necessarily illegal to drive after having one or two drinks, defense lawyers emphasize the fact that one or two drinks can affect each person differently.

One drink may not affect one driver in the slightest way while it could cause another driver to lose coordination, mental clarity, or even exceed the legal BAC limit.

Once again, even though the law states that driving after drinking is not illegal on its own, if you are determined to be intoxicated in one of these two ways, you can be arrested and charged with DWI under the assumption of intoxication.

Determining Impairment Can Be Subjective

In terms of determining intoxication based on mental and physical impairment, criminal defense attorneys find that this process is very subjective. Mental clarity and physical function are judged against what is considered to be “normal” for most people. Yet every person is different.

What may be normal for you may not be normal for another person, a point that criminal defense lawyers will argue in court if you are charged solely based on this type of impairment determination.

Criminal defense attorneys stress that by law in Texas, you are legally permitted to drive your car even after having a drink or two. The consumption of alcohol is not grounds for arrest or being charged with DWI. Despite this, defense lawyers warn that if you consume alcohol and do become impaired with even one drink, you can legally be charged with DWI.

Considering the added fact that determining impairment on the basis of mental or physical capacity can be highly subjective, criminal defense lawyers strongly suggest refraining from driving immediately after consuming alcohol!

Garza & Elizondo, LLP

Downtown Brownsville
Principal Office
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
(956) 202-0067

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1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526
(956) 202-0067

San Benito
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2395 La Palma Street, Suite A
San Benito TX 78586

(956) 202-0067