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Will Texas follow Utah's DWI lead?

Texas has long prided itself on its tough stances on law and order issues. Drunken driving is no exception. As you know, a first DWI conviction can mean up to 180 days in jail. Drivers arrested for a second offense DWI face anywhere from a month in jail up to a full year behind bars.

That is why many observers wonder if the Texas legislature will respond to the recent news that Utah lawmakers have enacted the nation's strictest drunk driving threshold. Once the Utah measure goes into effect, anyone with a 0.05 percent BAC (blood alcohol content) can be arrested for intoxicated driving. Here in Texas, the threshold is 0.08 percent.

If signed by Gov. Gary Herbert (who said he supports the proposal), the law would go into effect on Dec. 30, 2018. Of course, that would mean New Year's revelers next year could face increased risks of being pulled over, charged and convicted of drinking and driving.

The legislation's supporters say the tougher law will save lives by putting the fear of the law into people who have consumed alcohol. Those opposed to the measure say it might well hurt tourism as Utah hardens its image as a place unfriendly to drinkers.

According to a recent Associated Press article, the new law will mean that a 150-pound male could get busted for DWI after two beers and a 120-pound female would risk arrest after a single drink.

A spokesperson for the American Beverage Institute (which opposed the legislation) said the proposal will have few real-world effects because more than three-quarters of all Utah alcohol-related traffic deaths involve drivers with a BAC of 0.15 and above.

She characterized the legislation as an effort "to criminalize perfectly responsible behavior."

We don't know if Texas will respond to Utah's measure, but we do know that those arrested in Edinburg face harsh penalties upon conviction. You can contact an attorney experienced in DWI defense for information about how to protect your rights and freedom.

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