If you live in The Lone Star State or plan on visiting sometime soon, you should get familiar with the state’s drug and alcohol laws.

What are the consequences of drinking and driving? Is cannabis legal? And what kind of penalties exist for breaking the law? Read on for information about substance abuse laws in Texas.

DUI Laws in Texas

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is dangerous. Substances affect a person’s reflexes and ability to make sound decisions. For this reason, driving with a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more is illegal. Commercial drivers are subject to a 0.04% limit.

Driving under the influence (DUI) of impairing drugs is also a criminal activity. A police officer can conduct a field sobriety test if they suspect you are drunk or high.

Zero Tolerance Laws in Texas

Every 20 minutes in Texas, there’s a serious road accident linked to alcohol. So it’s not surprising that Texas prohibits underage drinking and driving. If you are under the age of 21, you cannot drive with any alcohol in your system.

Is Cannabis Legal in Texas?

For a long time, Texas has had a tough stance on marijuana. The substance is legal for medical use in the form of CBD oil as per the Compassionate Use Act. But it is not legal for recreation.

And there are restrictions when it comes to CBD oil. For those with a prescription, CBD oil can contain up to 0.5% THC. Without a doctor’s approval, only up to 0.3% THC is allowed.

Other Substance-Related Crimes in Texas

The following activities are illegal:

  • Having or using illicit drugs and/or controlled substances
  • Making, selling or transporting these substances
  • Storing open containers of alcohol in a vehicle. They need to be transported in the trunk of a vehicle. If there is no trunk, you can store containers behind the last row of seats. Breaking this law can result in a $500 fine.

There are 10 states where minors can consume alcohol under the supervision of close family members. Texas is one of them. But giving alcohol to a minor who is not a child or spouse can lead to fines and jail time.

Penalties for Alcohol or Drug Abuse in Texas

DUI Penalties in Texas

First-time offenders face the following charges:

  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • Three to 180 days of jail time
  • Up to a year of license suspension
  • A yearly fee of at least $1,000 for three years to retain license
  • An enhanced BAC of 0.15% can mean up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
  • Refusing to do a test results in automatic license suspension for six months.
  • A DWI offense with children under 15 in the car is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.

Penalties are more severe where there are prior convictions. After two convictions within five years, the use of an ignition interlock device becomes necessary. This device allows operation of the vehicle if the driver’s BAC is below a set amount.

Zero Tolerance Penalties in Texas

Those who are under 21 and found with a BAC of less than 0.08% are punishable by:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Two months of license suspension
  • 20 to 40 hours of community service
  • Compulsory alcohol education classes

Cannabis Penalties in Texas

  • Possession of less than two ounces is a Class B misdemeanor. This means up to $2,000 in fines and six months of possible jail time.
  • Giving 7g of marijuana or less to someone else incurs the same penalty as possessing less than two ounces.
  • Selling 7g, however,  potentially means going to jail for a year and paying up to $4,000 in fines.
  • Penalties are even more harsh for having, making or delivering hash concentrates.
  • Drug convictions result in automatic driver’s license suspensions.

First-time offenders can sometimes do a drug diversion rehab program instead of jail time.

Penalties for selling cannabis are more severe when minors are involved or if transactions take place in drug-free zones close to school properties.

While we strive to provide updated information, the legal environment is dynamic. Consult with a local lawyer before making decisions that could lead to drug or alcohol charges.

Get Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Texas

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is hope. We highly recommend seeking treatment. Health professionals can assist you to get back on your feet.

Where relevant, treatment begins with a safe and supervised detox. Treatment includes therapy which is essential for understanding the causes of substance misuse. Counselors teach patients tools to avoid triggers and cope with cravings.

Getting help shouldn’t be harder than getting drugs. Contact a rehab program near you to discuss the best options to suit your needs. It’s the first step towards a more healthy and happy life.


  1. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  2. Underage Drinking and Driving
  3. Texas Laws & Penalties – NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws

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