Everyone in the Bryan/College Station area knows that driving while intoxicated is illegal, but few know the consequences associated with a conviction for such an offense.

In Texas, those convicted of a first offense of drunk driving face a mandatory 72 hours in jail. That is often suspended for time served as long as the defendant agrees to a year of probation and between 20 and 40 hours of community service.

For comparison's sake, here is how neighboring states punish first-time drunk drivers:

  • In Louisiana, first-time offenders face a mandatory two days in jail, although community service is allowed instead of incarceration.
  • The Sooner State does not mess around. Drunk drivers in Oklahoma are penalized with five days in jail, though it is often suspended to community service as part of a plea bargain.
  • Arkansas punishes first-time drunk drivers with one day in jail, but that is often served at the time the person is arrested or taken care of with community service instead.
  • Those convicted of a first offense of drunk driving in New Mexico are sentenced to one year of probation and 24 hours of community service.

In many states, the punishment for subsequent offenses is harsher than that meted out for the first offense. These laws also do not reflect social consequences, like higher insurance rates and social stigma. If you are ever accused of driving while intoxicated, speaking with an attorney who regularly handles such cases is a small step you can take to protect yourself.

Source: The Detroit Free Press, "Drunken driving laws by state," L.L. Braiser, 25 July 2011.