A conviction for a criminal charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) is serious enough, but a second or third conviction for the same offense is much more consequential. Not only do the punishments increase in severity for a second or third DWI conviction, the impact on future freedoms is affected as well.
When a law enforcement officer stops a vehicle on suspicions of drunk driving in Texas, the officer will obtain some basic information from the driver. This information will be cross-referenced against a database in the officer’s computer. If the driver has a previous DWI conviction, the rest of the traffic stop will change in a significant way.
In almost all jurisdictions, a driver has the right to refuse a blood alcohol test if he or she has no previous DWI convictions. A previously convicted driver loses that right and must submit to the test or be arrested for not cooperating with law enforcement.
Penalties for a Second or Third DWI Offense
A second DWI offense has similar punishments to a first DWI conviction, but a second offense increases the severity of the consequences. Also, a second offense is upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor. Two misdemeanors on a person’s record can cause the loss of certain rights, such as the right to obtain a concealed handgun permit.
A third DWI offense is classified as a third-degree felony, with consequences that can last a lifetime. Some typical second or third DWI punishments in the state of Texas can include:
- Up to 30 days in jail for a second DWI offense. For a third DWI charge, the incarceration period increases to up to one year in county jail.
- $125 charge for reinstating a driver’s license that was suspended because of a second DWI offense. Also, a $2,000 surcharge will be assessed each year for three years for this offense in addition to an initial fine that can cost up to $4,000.
- If the intoxicated driver had a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age, he or she can be charged with DWI with child passenger. This is a state jail felony with a minimum sentence of six months in a state jail facility.
A Houston DWI Lawyer Can Help You
An experienced DWI attorney will attempt to fight DWI charges in several ways. First, the attorney will try to show that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. Also, the attorney may attempt to show that the blood alcohol test was administered improperly, which can deem the results inadmissible.
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