If you were recently arrested under suspicion of DWI and already have a pre-existing DWI on your record, you’re probably wondering about the consequences for DWI felony repetition in Texas. Repeat offenders often face more severe consequences, and each subsequent DWI conviction is much more likely to be a felony charge than the last.
Learn more about what happens on your first, second, and third convictions, and why — if you’ve been charged with felony DWI in Texas — who you hire to legally represent you is more important than ever.
Is your first DWI a felony charge?
DWI first offenses in Texas usually aren’t felonies, although there are a few ways to get your charge upgraded on a first offense. Aggravating factors that will turn a first offense DWI into a felony include:
- Driving while intoxicated with a child in the car
- Accidents causing injury, also known as Intoxication Assault
- Accidents causing death, also known as Intoxication Manslaughter
Barring any of these aggravating factors, your DWI first offense in Texas shouldn’t be a felony, although it can be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 or higher. Even if your first offense isn’t a felony, you can expect a 90-day to 1-year DWI license suspension in Texas if convicted of driving while intoxicated.
You do have a chance to fight the license suspension by requesting an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of your arrest. It is recommended that you do not attend an ALR hearing, and instead let your representation attend in hopes that (if the officer who arrested you attends) they can cross-examine them and discredit their testimony. If the officer doesn’t show, you have a chance of getting the ALR hearing dismissed altogether and effectively winning your civil case.
What happens when you get a second DWI in Texas?
Is a second DUI a felony? Second DWIs are also not automatically felonies in Texas, however, the penalties do get a bit steeper. Fines for second DWIs automatically double from $2,000 to $4,000, and you will likely be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. The secondary punishments may be similar to those one would face on their first DWI, but the likelihood of facing the maximum possible sentence increases significantly, so you can expect longer license suspensions — and maybe even jail time.
Jail time is often the big question after a second DWI. Can you avoid jail time after a second DWI in Texas? Not really. There is a mandatory three-day jail sentence in Texas for repeat DWI convictions, and you could go to jail for anywhere from a month to a year!
Possibly the biggest distinction between DWI first offenses in Texas and subsequent offenses is that DWI charges become permanent after the first offense. Drivers convicted of a second DWI in Texas cannot have their records sealed or their DWIs deferred. So if you’re wondering how to get a DWI dismissed in Texas, unfortunately, the answer is to not get more than one conviction. To do that, you need an aggressive attorney to fight to get those charges dropped as soon as they happen.
What happens when you get 3 DWIs in Texas?
Is the third DWI offense in Texas a felony? Yes. A third DWI is always at minimum a third-degree felony charge in Texas, and because the state has no lookback period, it won’t matter how long ago you received your first or second DWI. Your third DWI will count as your third even if you were convicted of your second DWI 50 years ago.
A third DWI carries a jail sentence of anywhere from 2 to 10 years. With aggressive and skilled representation crafting a defense, this time can often be reduced or supplemented with community service, alcohol education courses, or work programs.
I got a repeat felony in Texas, what do I do?
Every subsequent felony charge in Texas comes with higher fines and more jail time, but the real cost of repeat DWI offenses is the impact it can have on your livelihood, your family, and your reputation. Becoming a felon has an effect on an immense amount of choices in life, from housing to employment all the way to participation in government programs and constitutional rights.
If you want to make sure that DWI felony repetition in Texas doesn’t control the rest of your life, your only recourse is to hire the best lawyer you can possibly find. Repeat offenses for felony DWI have the potential to destroy a life. Conviction, even with reduction, could not be enough. You need to hire a lawyer who isn’t afraid to go to trial.
The consequences of DWI felony repetition in Texas are aggressive, so hire an aggressive DWI attorney to match
The consequences of DWI felony repetition in Texas are hard to overstate. The state is tough on repeat offenders and charges accordingly. If you have any desire to continue to lead your life, and not the life of a repeat felon, you need to hire a trial lawyer who proves that their clients are Not Guilty.
Mark Thiessen, founding attorney of the Thiessen Law Firm, is is Triple Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, DWI Defense Law by the National College for DWI Defense, and DWI Law by the DWI Defense Lawyers Association. He has over 100 Not Guilty Verdicts and thousands of dismissals. If anyone is qualified to navigate the dangerous aftermath of a third or fourth DWI in Texas, it is Mark and his team.
Call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.
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