3rd DWI Offense in Texas? Here is What a DWI Lawyer Recommends

Texas 3rd DWI Offense

Third DWI Texas – Or More

Driving under the influence is a real danger. In Texas in 2019, more than 10,000 accidents happened as a result of drunk driving. Nearly 900 people died, with 2,150 more being seriously injured.

DWI laws and charges put dangerous drivers in jail. But receiving a DUI charge can be troubling and disorientating.

Just one offense can lead to imprisonment. Yet a third offense can put you behind bars for years.

When you are facing your third DWI charge, you need a DWI lawyer. But before you give one a call, you need to get smart about the laws. Here is a quick guide on what you and your lawyer should do.

What Is a DWI Under Texas Law?

Under Texas law, you are intoxicated when your blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent or above. That takes at least two drinks to reach, so you can have one beer and then drive.

But the law also applies to anyone who drives while impaired. You can receive a DWI charge even if you are below the legal limits. You cannot drive with an open container of alcohol, even if you don’t drink from it.

A first offense has severe penalties in itself. It includes up to 5,000 dollars in fines. It leads to a mandatory jail sentence of three days, which the judge can extend up to 180 days.

You can lose your license for up to one year. When you apply to get a new one, you will need to complete a DWI traffic school. You will also see increases in your insurance premiums.

A second offense includes up to 7,500 dollars in fines. It leads to a one-month minimum prison sentence and loss of license for up to two years.

A third offense includes up to 16,000 dollars in fines. Prison sentences range from two to 10 years. You can also lose your license for up to two years.

You can be charged with other offenses if you drink and drive. If you drive with a child passenger while intoxicated, you can receive a child endangerment charge. You can receive a fine or prison sentence for that charge, and the penalties for DWI also increase.

What Constitutes a Third DUI Offense in Texas?

In Texas, a DUI is referred to as a DWI, standing for driving while intoxicated. This is an incredibly serious matter whether it happens once or more than that. There isn’t any ambiguity when it comes to what counts as a 3rd DWI offense according to Texas Law.

In some other states, there is a “look back” period. This means that they will only look back a certain number of years to see if you’ve had prior convictions. However, Texas is not one of these states.

This means that it doesn’t matter how long ago you got your two previous DWIs. You could have two DWIs forty years ago and another DWI will count as your third and therefore a felony.

3rd DUI: Jail Time and Other Consequences

While the consequences for an individual’s first two DWIs are severe, getting a third DWI conviction means you will likely spend more time in jail, pay more in fines, and suffer additional penalties.

Jail Time

Depending on the circumstances of your case, a judge might order you to spend anywhere between two and ten years in prison. While there is a minimum sentencing of two years, it is possible for the majority of that sentence to be probated by the court. That means that you can sometimes avoid serving a large portion of your sentence if you stay out of trouble and comply with a supervised release program.

Ultimately, your sentence is up to the judge. It’s important to know that even if your sentence is probated as a part of a plea deal, there is a minimum requirement as a part of any plea deal of serving at least ten days in jail. This jail time can’t be probated or waived.

You might be offered probation as a part of a plea bargain if you qualify for it. This plea bargain will have to be approved by a judge. In order to finish probation, you might be required to attend substance abuse classes or counseling, do 600 hours of community service, and participate in DWI intervention programs.

Fines

When you get convicted of your third DUI, there will be fines on top of jail time. The maximum fine you can be required to pay is $10,000. The judge, however, isn’t required to give you the full fine amount.

It’s important to note that there are lots of other costs to getting a third DUI conviction other than the fines you’re required to pay. There will also be counseling fees, court costs, interlock device costs, and other expenses. It can be incredibly expensive to get a DUI conviction.

Driver’s License Suspension

On top of jail time and fines, your third DUI conviction will result in your driving privileges being suspended. With each conviction you receive, there are additional administrative penalties.

When you get a DWI for the third time, your license will most likely be suspended for two years. Once you do get your license back, the court will probably require that an IID (ignition interlock device) be installed in your vehicle. These devices require you to essentially take a breathalyzer test every time you get in your car and won’t start if it detects alcohol on your breath.

There are also costs associated with getting your license suspended. Reinstating your license will cost money and you’ll face a licensing fee surcharge for three years of $2,000 a year.

Additional Consequences

If the previously listed consequences haven’t scared you yet, take a look at some of the additional consequences you might face. These include:

  • No longer having the right to own a firearm
  • Losing employment
  • Losing the right to vote
  • Having a hard time finding housing
  • Losing a professional license
  • No longer able to receive certain government benefits
  • Negatively impacting your reputation

Getting a DWI is a serious event, and getting three can really change your life.

How to Beat a 3rd DWI Charge

Do not drink and drive. Even if you’ve only had one beer, you could get into an accident and get arrested for DWI. Take public transportation or hire a car to take you where you need to go.

Do not drive after consuming any intoxicating substances. This includes strong prescription medications.

If you must drive after you’ve had a drink, wear a seatbelt and practice safe driving techniques. Many drivers get pulled over not for drunk driving, but because the officer saw them doing something else.

When a police car pulls behind you and turns on its lights, pull over right away. Take a deep breath and get your license and insurance.

In the state of Texas, you must identify yourself when a police officer asks for your personal information. You must let them see your driver’s license and/or photo identification.

If they don’t ask for it, you do not have to provide it. Beyond that one question, you have the right to remain silent.

You must invoke your right. State out loud, “I wish to assert my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent until I have a lawyer present.” If you don’t make a clear statement, they will keep asking you questions.

You can refuse field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. Your license can be suspended for up to 180 days. But your refusal gives prosecutors very little evidence to convict you of a DWI offense.

If you get arrested, tell the police again that you are asserting your right to remain silent. Once you are processed, call a DWI attorney and get them down to the station right away.

Additional Circumstances to Consider

There are a couple of additional circumstances that can influence the consequences of your crime. These include drunk driving with a child passenger and Texas open container laws.

If you’re caught driving drunk with a child in the car who is under 15 years old, you can be fined an additional $10,000 dollars. And, even if it is your first offense, you could be sent to jail for up to two years. Again, you also can lose your license for up to 180 days for this offense.

Another thing to think about is Texas’s open container law. The open container law states that you commit a crime if you have an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a car that’s located on a public highway, street, road, or right-of-way.

In Texas, an open container charge is a Class B Misdemeanor.

What a DWI Lawyer Can Do

For prosecutors to prove you were drinking while driving, they must prove seven separate things. Your DWI lawyer can defend you on any or all of these seven elements.

They could argue you were not operating a car or vehicle while intoxicated. Just because they found you in your car does not mean you were driving your car. If your attorney can prove there was no operation, you can get acquitted.

You must have been in a public place. If you were drinking in your driveway or on your porch, you did not commit a DUI.

The most common defense has to do with intoxication. You may have a medical condition that led to a false breathalyzer reading. Alcohol in mouthwash or toothpaste can trigger a higher reading than expected.

Your lawyer can call into question the circumstances for an arrest. If you were detained after a field sobriety test, they can point out flaws in the test. You may have bad coordination that caused you to fall down.

DWI lawyers launch their own investigations. They gather police reports, witness testimonies, and surveillance recordings. They talk to you and understand what may have caused your arrest.

You should hire a DWI lawyer before any offense. Given the incredible penalties you can face for a third DWI offense, it is essential that you hire a lawyer for one.

Contact the Best DWI Law Firm

You may have a DWI conviction already. That doesn’t mean you’re helpless when a third DWI charge comes your way.

A third offense can send you to prison for 10 years. Don’t let that happen.

When a cop pulls you over, give them nothing that they can use against you. Invoke your right against self-incrimination. Refuse a breathalyzer test.

Contact a DWI lawyer who can break down the law. They should launch a defense based on one element of it.

Final Word

The consequences for a 3rd DWI offense in Texas can be severe and long-lasting. Depending on the individual case, a 3rd DWI offender could face up to 10 years in prison, hefty fines, and probation or mandatory community service. Not only are these punishments time-consuming and expensive, but they also have the potential to severely disrupt an individual’s life.

Find lawyers with experience and knowledge.

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