Is a second DWI a felony in Texas? With first offenses for DWI already carrying steep and often compounding penalties, a second DWI arrest carries even more serious consequences. The complex nature of navigating a second DWI conviction demands specialized counsel like that offered at Thiessen Law Firm. Mark Thiessen is an aggressive and dedicated DWI defense attorney who will fight for your rights and freedoms if you are charged with a 2nd DWI in Texas. 

So, is a second DWI a felony in Texas? Here is everything you need to know.

What is the punishment for a DWI in Texas?

First offense DWIs are usually classified as Class B misdemeanors, although prior alcohol-related convictions or a BAC over .15 can upgrade those charges to Class A. First arrests for DWI also come with minimum terms of confinement. This means that the accused will be spending a minimum of 72 hours in jail, a number that jumps up to 6 days if the arresting officers find an open container in the car.

The courts are particularly tough on DWI convictions; although first (and second) convictions are often classified as misdemeanors, they are uniquely difficult to fight and even harder to win, unless you have a skilled DWI defense attorney on your side. 

How many DWIs is a felony in TX?

What happens when you get two DWIs in Texas? Is it then a felony? The answer, as it often is with criminal offenses, is complicated. It is generally not until your third DWI in Texas that it is charged as a felony, and second DWIs are considered Class A misdemeanors, with a few important exceptions to the rule. 

There are three ways in which a first or second DWI offense would come with felony charges:

  • You can be charged with a state jail felony for driving under the influence with a child passenger if you drive drunk with a passenger under the age of 15.
  • You can be charged with a third-degree felony in a non-lethal crash for intoxication assault. Felony charges will be drawn up if you are involved in a crash that contributes to the disfigurement or otherwise permanent injury of another party, even if it is your first offense.
  • You can be charged with a second-degree felony if you are involved in a crash that leads to the death of another party, a charge called intoxication manslaughter.

A third DWI conviction is a felony in Texas, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison (maximum 10 years) and a fine of up to 10,000. However, that fine does not come close to capturing the real cost of a third DWI, and the toll that it inevitably takes on one’s livelihood. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident and is under suspicion of driving under the influence, hire the best intoxication assault lawyer Houston has to offer and give yourself a chance at freedom.

Continue reading: How much does a DWI cost in Texas?

Further consequences of a second DWI conviction

There is no lookback period in Texas, and DWIs never fall off records or qualify for expungement; if you are convicted, especially if you have a prior DWI, you’ve got a friend for life. You could be arrested for a DWI in forty years and face the same level of prosecution that you would for committing repeat offenses in the same month. First DWI offenses, despite their permanence, may still qualify for a nondisclosure (sealing of the record) thanks to Texas House Bill 3016 (colloquially ‘Second Chance Bill’), but a 2nd DWI in Texas is ineligible for sealing, and remains visible on background checks in perpetuity.

The court, after multiple DWI convictions, may mandate that an ignition interlock device be installed on your vehicle. Other than having to take a breathalyzer just to start your own vehicle, this also makes it illegal to drive any vehicles not outfitted with the device.

Some of the more grievous consequences of multiple DUI convictions lie in the damage they can do to a person over a lifetime, affecting everything from job opportunities to the constitutional right to vote.

Fighting a second DWI conviction

There are a few things that you can do to help yourself in the event that you are pulled over under the suspicion of DWI before you even pick up the phone:

  • Blow, don’t bleed: In most cases, we recommend that you take the breathalyzer and avoid the blood test.
  • Best behavior: Be polite, calm, and cooperative. Let the arrest record (and video) show that you were on your best behavior during the time of the arrest.
  • Remain silent: Don’t try to talk your way out of it. The police officer is not your friend, and (politely) remaining silent will benefit you more than sharing with him that it was ‘just one little drink’.
  • Know your rights: You possess many rights other than the right to remain silent, know them. You should provide the necessary documentation and answer appropriate questions amicably, but are not required to submit to a search of your vehicle. 

You have, other than your positive behavior, the science at your disposal– or more accurately, the opportunity to cross-examine the science. However, this incredibly important tool can only be utilized by someone with a deep understanding of the underlying science, and not many of them exist.

Mark Thiessen 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, and not to mention an American Chemistry Society Certified Forensic Lawyer-Scientist. He has experience handling intoxication assault cases and is a top Houston intoxication manslaughter lawyer. He is uniquely qualified, among experts in both fields, to handle you or your loved one’s DWI case. 

Charged with a Second DWI? Fight it with Thiessen Law Firm.

Is a second DWI a felony in Texas? Not usually, but the strategy remains the same for getting the best results out of your DWI case. Remember your rights and remember to hire the right lawyer. You cannot afford the penalties that come with a DWI conviction. Mark Thiessen is Houston’s most trusted DWI defense attorney who will fight for your best possible outcome. 

Call Thiessen Law Firm at 713-864-9000 or request a free case consultation online.

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.