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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.

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