As you undoubtedly know, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious crime in every state. With its hefty penalties, Texas is certainly no exception. While the threat of jail time and expensive fines may be enough to dissuade you from drinking and driving, you may unknowingly be violating other alcohol laws.
You must be 21 years or older in order to consume alcohol in Texas. You may serve alcohol in a bar or restaurant at the age of 18, although you may need to obtain an alcohol permit in certain jurisdictions.
In most areas, liquor cannot be sold in grocery, drug or convenience stores—although these retailers are allowed to sell beer and wine. State law also restricts alcohol sales on Sundays. As a result, you cannot purchase beer or wine in any type of store.
You may, however, purchase an alcoholic beverage in certain restaurants, during the hours of 10 a.m. and noon. Restaurants and bars can also sell alcohol between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
Under the Texas alcohol laws, it is illegal to transport an open alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of your vehicle, regardless of the type or amount of alcohol. Any open bottles or cans of alcohol must be placed in a locked glove compartment or trunk—even if the vehicle is not moving. Violating this law is punishable by up to a $500 offense.
Although the state’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is 0.08%, individuals may be charged with DWI before their BAC reaches that level. Known as a “per se” offense, this allows the officer to use his or her discretion to determine whether an individual should be arrested for DWI.
The penalties for DWI in Texas include jail time, expensive fines and license suspension. If your BAC is 0.15% or more, or you are a repeat offender, you face additional penalties. Drivers under 21 can be arrested for DWI if they have any alcohol in their system at all.
One of the most unknown Texas laws is the implied consent law, which requires drivers to submit to a breath, blood or urine test if a police officer requests one. If you refuse to take a breath or other alcohol test, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to one year.