Even First-Time DWI Arrestees Could Face Ignition Interlock Requirement, Austin Criminal Defense Attorney Says

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If a bill makes it through the Texas Legislature, installation of ignition interlock devices could become mandatory for all drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the state of Texas, says Austin criminal defense lawyer Trey Collins.

Trey Collins

If you are required to have one of these devices in your vehicle, you will be hit with the cost of installation and maintenance, and that could amount to hundreds of dollars.

Austin criminal defense attorney Trey Collins says Texas drivers should pay attention to the state’s increasingly aggressive stance on drunk driving.

Collins specifically points to a bill that is currently pending in the Texas Legislature, H.B . 506, which would require all drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicle, including first-time offenders.

“Texas takes DWIs seriously, and drivers need to take it seriously, too,” says Collins, whose law firm, Minton, Burton, Foster and Collins, P.C. (MBFC) represents drivers arrested on DWI/DUI charges in Austin and its surrounding communities.

“If you’re convicted of DWI in Texas, you face the possibility of losing your driver’s license, jail time, a heavy fine and, if this bill passes, you could face the burden of having an ignition interlock device in your car, which carries with it more costs,” Collins says.

The Texas Highway Patrol made 96,350 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2009, including arrests of 279 juveniles. The patrol closed 2010 with a flurry of 1,106 arrests during the holiday period between December 21 and January 1 – 288 more DWI arrests than it made during that period in 2009, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Those numbers indicate that state and local law enforcement officers are ramping up their efforts to detect and arrest suspected drunk drivers, Collins says.

When the Texas Legislature began its new session in January, it began considering H.B. 506, a bill that would require the installation of ignition interlock devices for all DWI convictions. There has been no action on the bill since it was filed.

Only 11 states have a mandatory ignition interlock device requirement for all DWI offenses.

Ignition interlock devices are essentially breathalyzer devices. If the device detects a certain amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath sample, it prevents the car from being started.

Under current Texas law, ignition interlock devices are only required for drivers with two or more DWIs or for those convicted for having a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.15 or higher, which is nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08.

“If you are required to have one of these devices in your vehicle, you will be hit with the cost of installation and maintenance, and that could amount to hundreds of dollars,” Collins says.

The proposed ignition interlock requirement shows that the consequences are becoming increasingly serious for motorists arrested for DWI in Texas, Collins says.

“That’s why, if you are arrested for suspected drunk driving, it is crucial to work with an experienced Texas DWI attorney in order to defend yourself and protect your rights,” Collins says.

About Minton, Burton, Foster and Collins, P.C.

The Austin, Texas law firm of Minton, Burton, Foster and Collins, P.C.(MBFC), has helped Texas individuals and businesses with their legal issues since 1963. The firm practices criminal defense in state and federal courts in felony and misdemeanor cases, including DWI/DUI charges, drug offenses, sexual offenses, computer crimes and juvenile crimes. The firm’s practice areas also include family law, personal injury and civil litigation. MBFC represents clients in civil and criminal matters in Austin, Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, Caldwell, Burnet and Comal counties. To learn more, call (512) 476-4873 or contact the firm online.

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