The vast majority of Driving While Intoxicated charges in Texas are misdemeanors. When someone is charged with a third DWI following two convictions, the charge increases to a third degree felony. Third degree felonies are punishable by up to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine may be assessed. You deserve to be treated fairly. Enlist the services of an aggressive defense attorney to guard your liberty and protect your rights. We will provide you with a free case consultation.
Driving While Intoxicated – 3rd+ Offense Frequently Asked Questions
Can DWI’s that happened a long time ago be used against me?
There is no “look back” rule in Texas when it comes to prior convictions for Driving While Intoxicated. In some states, the government cannot use a conviction against you if it happened long ago. This is not the case in Texas. The government can use convictions against a citizen that happened twenty or thirty years ago. There is no time limit, and thus someone can end up with a felony charge even if they haven’t been in trouble for decades.
What are the possible punishments?
Third degree felonies are punishable by up to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine may be assessed. A probationary period of up to ten years is another possible punishment. Felony probations are typically more restrictive and demanding than misdemeanor probation. As an example, felony probation often requires an ignition interlock device. It is very likely that your driver’s license will be suspended for two years following a third DWI conviction. It’s important to seek proactive and aggressive legal counsel if charged with a felony DWI. A felony conviction has serious collateral consequences that last a lifetime.
Are there differences at trial with a 3rd DWI offense?
Felony DWI’s are tried in district court – not county court like their misdemeanor counterparts. Unlike a DWI 2nd trial, the government is allowed to tell the jury that this is your third DWI charge. The judge and the lawyers will instruct the jury that they cannot use your prior convictions as evidence of guilt in your third DWI, but the practical reality is that it is very prejudicial for defendants once the jury learns they’re facing a third DWI charge with two prior convictions. A skillful trial lawyer must remove those jury panelists who cannot be free from bias, and reinforce in the jury’s mind the fairness of not using those prior convictions against you.
Can anything be done to help with a DWI – 3+ offense?
Because of the potential bias and risk of prison time associated with trying a felony Driving While Intoxicated case, it is all the more important to scrutinize the government’s evidence before trial. It’s possible that the government may not be able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated, or that you were even operating the vehicle in question. Similarly, it’s possible that the timeliness of your operation is in great dispute, meaning the government cannot establish your blood alcohol concentration at the time of driving.
The government may be willing to reduce their charge to a misdemeanor as part of an agreement if there are legal issues with their case that could arise at trial.