Although you shouldn’t panic, if you’re facing a 3rd DWI in Texas, you need to act fast. 3rd DWIs are much more serious than charges for your 1st or 2nd DWI, and come with much more severe punishments, but a charge is not a conviction. Until you’ve been found guilty you have reason to continue fighting for your freedom, and the best way to do that is hiring a quality DWI defense attorney. 

Here’s the quick and dirty of what you can expect with a 3rd DWI in Texas: more fines, more jail time, more admin penalties, and more consequences. But with the right DWI lawyer in your corner, you can minimize these penalties and make it through this life obstacle with as little fallout as possible. 

Mark Thiessen and the attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm have made their name by taking tough DWI cases to court and winning. If you or a loved one is facing a 3rd DWI, give Thiessen Law Firm a call today at (713) 864-9000 and ask us to fight for you, or continue reading to find out the typical fines, penalties, and life consequences associated with a being charged with a 3rd DWI in Texas. 

Not facing your 3rd DWI? Check out these articles instead:

What happens when you get a 3rd DWI in Texas?

A 3rd DWI is considered a 3rd-degree felony DWI in Texas. And it doesn’t make a difference how long ago your 1st and 2nd DWI were received. In Texas, a 3rd DWI is always a 3rd DWI — even if that 2nd DWI was 10, 15, or even 25 years ago.

Another thing to keep in mind with a 3rd DWI is how your case will be handled in court. Prior DWI charges might be considered a stupid mistake. But a 3rd DWI is considered a recurring issue, and you will likely be treated as if you have a substance abuse problem.

As with all DWIs, however, you can expect the penalties and fines to be based on individual circumstances. What was your blood alcohol concentration level? Did you injure anyone or damage any property? Were there children in the car? Depending on your answers to questions like these, you could end up with more or less severe penalties.

Typical punishment for 3rd DWI in Texas

While punishments will vary based on the severity of your crime and the circumstances surrounding your 3rd DWI arrest, punishments for 3rd DWIs fall into a general range, and they are always severe. 

Is jail time mandatory for 3rd DWI in Texas?

With a 3rd DWI under your belt, you could be facing anywhere between 2 to 10 years of prison time. Proper defense could help you reduce time spent in prison or see this term spent in other ways (community service, counseling, probation or work programs), but if you are convicted you will certainly be up against prison time. 

How much does a 3rd DWI cost?

Initial fines associated with a 3rd DWI in Texas can reach up to $10,000. This does not include additional costs you can rack up in administrative fees and fines, which can include mandated civil fees that range from $3000 to $6000 depending on if the charge occurred within 36 months of the original charge and if the blood alcohol level is over 0.15.

Will my driver’s license be suspended or revoked?

The chances of having your license revoked go up significantly with each subsequent DWI, and are much higher for felony DWI than they are misdemeanors. 

Dealing with a revoked license can wreak havoc on your life, and make something as simple as getting to work in the morning nearly impossible — and that is before you even have a chance to stand trial (i.e. before the court even knows if you’re guilty).

How do you stop your license from being revoked? You actually only have 15 days from the time that you are arrested to schedule an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing, which you have little chance of winning without a qualified attorney. This is why it is so essential to hire an attorney who not only knows how to defend you for DWI, but also how to win a revocation hearing to save your license and keep your life on track. 

Can I get probation for a 3rd DWI in Texas?

To be honest, it is pretty unlikely that you will be granted probation if you are convicted for a 3rd DWI in Texas. You may be able to get partial jail time and partial probation, but it is unlikely that any judge will grant you probation if you’ve got two prior convictions on your record. 

Those who are granted probation for DWI in Texas are usually first-time offenders, and even they don’t have the option to be granted early release. Texas takes DWI incredibly seriously, which is why you need to hire an attorney who can help you take your case and win, instead of pleading down and accepting another conviction. 

Other penalties for DWI in Texas

Jail time, fines, and license suspension are just the beginning of Texas DWI penalties. There are a slew of additional secondary penalties that can have a negative and lasting impact on your life. Here are just a few of the obstacles you might need to prep for:

  • Ignition interlock device (IID): In many circumstances, the court requires those with prior DWI charges to have an ignition interlock device installed inside their vehicle. These devices are basically in-car breathalyzers that require you to blow into a mouthpiece before operating your vehicle.
  • DWI programs and classes: Mandatory DWI programs and classes are also common requirements after a 3rd DWI conviction. It is required that you attend and/or pass the classes, courses, or programs before you can get your license back. If you fail to do so, you could be subject to additional fines and/or jail time.
  • Community service: You may also be required to complete anywhere between 100-600 hours of community service. This could be on top of the regular fines and jail time or in lieu of the regular fines and jail time. This all depends on your individual circumstances and the experience of your defense team.
  • A reduction in life opportunities: From housing to employment, a 3rd DWI in Texas can negatively impact it all. After receiving a 3rd DWI, it could be more difficult to find a job or to keep your current one; you could lose the potential for any government benefits or assistance, and you could temporarily lose your right to own firearms and even vote. This is why it’s incredibly important to educate yourself and to invest in the best possible DWI defenses.

DWI penalty chart

According to Texas Penal Code § 49.04, punishments for common DWI offenses in the Lone Star State are as follows:

OffenseChargeFineJail Time
First-offense DWIClass B misdemeanorUp to $2,0003 – 180 days
Second-offense DWIClass A misdemeanorUp to $4,00030 days – 2 years
Third-offense DWIThird-degree felonyUp to $10,0002 – 10 years
Fourth-offense DWIThird-degree felonyUp to $10,0002 – 20 years
First-time DWI w/ BAC 0.15% or higherClass A misdemeanorUp to $4,000Up to 1 year
First-time aggravated DWI w/ child passengerState jail felonyUp to $10,000180 days – 2 years
Aggravated DWI with prior conviction(s)Third-degree felonyUp to $10,0002 – 10 years
Intoxication AssaultThird-degree felonyUp to $10,0002 – 10 years
Intoxication ManslaughterSecond-degree felonyUp to $10,0002 – 20 years

What happens when you get 4 DWI in Texas?

As you can see in the above chart, a 4th DWI in Texas represents more or less the same penalties as a 3rd DWI, but with one big difference: the maximum prison time you can face is increased by 10 years

That and the prosecution will be even more unforgiving. You can expect even more severe penalties if your BAC was particularly high, you were arrested with a child in the car, or someone was injured while you were driving under the influence. 

Defenses a DWI 3rd offense in Texas

Mounting a successful defense against a 3rd DWI charge in Texas requires not just a knowledge of the state’s DWI laws, but deep experience defending high-stakes DWI cases in the courtroom, knowledge of law enforcement’s processes, as well as the science behind toxicology and sobriety.

While the defense that will apply in your case will depend entirely on the circumstances of your case, a few popular defenses to DWI are:

  1. Challenging the legality of the stop.
  2. Arguing that your rights were violated during the arrest.
  3. Exposing mistakes in law enforcement’s procedures.
  4. Shedding light on inconsistencies in the evidence. 
  5. Proving that the breath test, blood test, or sobriety tests were inaccurate. 

Not just any attorney will be able to successfully defend felony DWI charges in court, which is why it is absolutely essential that you choose the right DWI attorney the first time around.

How do I choose my DWI defense attorney?

But how do I choose my DWI attorney? With so many lawyers out there, we understand that choosing who will defend you can be a dizzying process. In general, there are a few steps that you can take to make sure you’re separating the wheat from the chaff. 

  1. Look at their credentials, notably their board certifications and Super Lawyers designation.
  2. Read verified reviews, specifically from trusted platforms like AVVO and Google reviews.
  3. Review their Notable Victories. Do you see victories associated with your case type? Victories related to repeat DWIs and Intoxication Manslaughter signal that you’re working with a professional. 

Mark Thiessen has been a Super Lawyer for 13 years running, and is the only lawyer in America who is Board Certified in the following:

  1. Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  2. DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense as approved through the American Bar Association
  3. DUI Law by the DUI Defense Lawyers Association
  4. Board Certified Advocate in Criminal Trial Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy Foundation

He’s also an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist, the highest designation awarded to lawyers by the American Chemical Society. This means that he understands both the law and the science behind DWI, and can use them to come to your defense. If you’ve got a difficult DWI case that you can’t beat, chances are that Mark Thiessen is uniquely qualified to take it on. 

Call Thiessen Law Firm for help with your 3rd DWI in Texas

Whether you’re facing your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd DWI in Texas, Thiessen Law Firm is qualified to help you defend your freedom in a court of law. Mark Thiessen and the Houston DWI attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm have built their reputation for relentless defense on taking complex DWI charges to court and winning them. 

If your or a loved one is facing a DWI charge in Texas and you can’t afford to be convicted, you need to give Thiessen Law Firm a call at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

Remember that a charge is not a conviction, and that your future is worth the fight. 

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Thiessen Law Firm

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.