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New ignition interlock law to take effect in Texas

Losing the ability to drive is what many people consider the worst consequence of a drunk driving conviction. Not only can a license suspension prevent you from getting to work or school, it can also cause serious embarrassment and shame.

Under current law, even a first-time DWI offense can result in a license suspension of up to 180 days if the person refuses to take a blood or breath test.

However, in a couple of weeks, a new law will go into effect in Texas that will allow people convicted of DWI with a blood alcohol content level of less than 0.15 percent to avoid a license suspension so long as they are willing to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.

The new law, which takes effect on Sept. 1, replaces the current law that requires convicted drunk drivers to accept the license suspension -- though judges have had the ability to make exceptions.

Lawmakers who supported the bill said that the old law was ineffective because people would still drive with a suspended license, often because they needed to get to work or bring their children to school.

Surprisingly, the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving also supports the law change, saying that they believe it will be more effective at preventing people from driving drunk than license suspensions have been.

How Ignition Interlock Devices Work

An ignition interlock device prevents your car from starting until you pass a breathalyzer test. The catch is that the test doesn't allow any traceable alcohol on your breath. That means your car may not start even if you are under the legal limit to drive.

Additionally, drivers must take responsibility for the fees associated with installing and maintaining an ignition interlock device in their vehicles, which can get quite expensive.

Under the new law, drivers who are convicted of a DWI with a blood alcohol content level of less than 0.15 percent will have the option to refuse the ignition interlock device and opt for the license suspension instead.

As you can see, the new law does not mean that the state is easing up in its DWI enforcement efforts. In fact, the policies are only getting stricter in the state.

That's why it's important to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately after being accused of drunk driving to have the best shot at protecting your reputation, your future and your pocketbook.

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