With Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve on the way, people intending to attend parties need to ensure they have a plan in place to make it home safely if they are going to drink alcohol. Failing to make suitable arrangements can lead to criminal charges if you have to drive yourself home while you are intoxicated.

There are several points you should know about drunk driving in Texas. A person will face a driving while intoxicated charge when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher. This only applies to people operating a personal vehicle. People who have a commercial driver’s license have a lower limit.

Determining BAC

Police officers will use a breath test or a blood test to determine the amount of alcohol in a person’s system. If the person’s BAC test doesn’t show they are impaired by alcohol, they might still face criminal charges if there are signs that the person is intoxicated. This is often the case when a person has taken drugs since those won’t show on a BAC test.

Not much alcohol is necessary

You might be surprised by how little alcohol it takes for a person to become legally intoxicated. The effects of alcohol start with the first drink you have. You can easily become impaired with as little as two or three beers per hour. Many factors go into how much you can consume before you are legally impaired so don’t think that you can handle the same amount of alcohol as someone else. Typically, women, people who are smaller and those who are younger won’t be able to tolerate as much before becoming legally intoxicated.

Penalties are severe

The penalties for a DWI are severe. For a first offense in Texas, you can face three to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000 and the loss of your ability to drive legally for a year. An annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 is also possible if you want to keep your driver’s license. This is required for three years. The penalties for subsequent convictions are even more serious. Some drivers will have to install an ignition interlock on their vehicle.

There are also increased penalties if you have a child under the age of 15 in your vehicle. You can face a DWI with a child passenger in these cases. This can come with two years in state jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and the loss of your driver’s license for 180 days.

Planning your defense strategy is imperative if you are facing a DWI in Texas. Avoiding the charge in the first place by finding another way home is preferable to having to figure out what to do about a DWI.