Bexar County has doubled the maximum penalty for drivers whose BAC is nearly twice the legal limit. Under the new law, first-time DWI offenders with a BAC .15% or higher will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000. A high BAC of .15% is more than double the legal limit of .08%.A first offense was previously a Class B misdemeanor, which was punishable by up to 6 months in jail, and a fine of $2,000.
The changes to the law were pushed through the Texas House by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio. He said, “We took a more serious approach for people who are clearly not social drinkers. Sending these people to court and giving them probation and other alternatives doesn’t solve the issue.”
On weekends, Bexar County has a “no refusal” policy. A no refusal means that those suspected of DWI can have their blood forcibly drawn if they refuse to submit to a chemical test. This policy was put in place by District Attorney Susan Reed, whose office arranges for nurses to be available to do blood draws of DWI suspects when an officer obtains a search warrant.
The no refusal initiatives were originally an occasional policy used in 2008, but this year the program was expanded to every weekend. District Attorney Susan Reed has said that she would like the policy to be implemented daily.