Every charge for driving while intoxicated (DWI) is taken seriously in Texas. However, if you have already been convicted of one or more DWIs in Texas or another state, then you currently face a more serious charge and harsher consequences. The punishment for a first-time DWI can be difficult. The statutory penalties and collateral consequences for a second, third, or subsequence DWI can be devastating to your career, education, and family life. If you are facing these charges, it’s important to retain the counsel of a multiple DWI lawyer to help you with your case.
When facing a charge for multiple DWIs, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced, trusted, and aggressive Houston DWI lawyer. This is not the type of situation to handle alone. Instead, you need someone who has been down this road before and knows how to protect your rights. You need someone who has the knowledge and tools necessary to build you the strongest defense available under the law. The Law Offices of Ned Barnett is ready to do just that. Contact Attorney Ned Barnett today to learn how he can help you.
Call today at (713) 222-6767.
Texas DWI Law
When facing DWI charges in Texas, it is important to understand the law and how it works. Texas’ DWI law is Penal Code §49.04. It states you can be convicted of a DWI if you are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Chapter 40 of Texas’ penal code defines intoxication as:
- Not having the normal use of your faculties due to alcohol, controlled substances, or a combination of two or more substances
- Having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more
If there is evidence that you are over the legal limit in Texas of .08 percent, then you will face DWI charges. Whether the charge is for a first, second, or subsequent DWI depends on your criminal record.
What is a Second DWI?
Many states have what is known as a “lookback period.” This is the period of time the court will look back to see if you have a previous DWI conviction. A DWI offense that took place prior to that time period does not count against the current arrest. However, that is not how it works in Texas. When you are facing DWI charges, the court looks back through your entire driving history. If you have one previous DWI that occurred at any time in your history as a driver, then the current offense will be a second DWI. If you’re facing charges for a second DWI, it is important to call a multiple DWI lawyer right away so you can ensure your rights are protected.
Statutory Penalties for a Second DWI
If you are arrested for a second DWI, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted of this offense, you may be punished by:
- At least 30 days in jail, or a minimum of 5 days if granted probation
- A fine up to $4,000
- A driver’s license suspension between 180 days and 2 years
- A three-year annual surcharge fee up to $2,000 to retain your driver’s license
- The installation of an ignition interlock device on every vehicle you drive
What is a Third DWI?
Texas courts will take your entire driving history into consideration when charging you with a second or subsequent DWI. If you have two previous DWI convictions, no matter how long ago they were, you will be charged with a third DWI.
The same is true for any subsequent DWIs as well. If you have three previous convictions from any time in your past, the current charge will be a fourth DWI, and so on.
Statutory Penalties for a Third or Subsequent DWI
A third or subsequent DWI in Texas is very serious. You will face a third-degree felony charge, punishable by:
- Up to 10 years in prison, or a minimum of 10 days in jail if probation is granted
- A fine up to $10,000
- A driver’s license suspension up to 2 years, beginning after your imprisonment
- A three-year annual surcharge fee of up to $2,000 to keep your driver’s license
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on every vehicle you drive
Probation After Multiple DWI Convictions
If you are granted probation for a second or subsequent DWI offense, you can expect to have to follow a number of rules and complete various requirements, in addition to completing a minimum amount of jail time. Following that period of incarceration, you may need to adhere to probation for up to two years for a second DWI, or up to 10 years for a third or subsequent DWI.
During probation, you may be required to:
- Complete a DWI intervention program for repeat offenders
- Complete an alcohol or substance abuse evaluation, and if necessary, attend treatment
- Complete between 80 and 200 hours of community service for a second DWI, or between 160 and 600 hours for a third or subsequent DWI
- Refrain from committing any crimes
- Refrain from consuming alcohol
- Submit to random drug or alcohol testing
- Pay monthly probation fees
- Pay all fines and court costs
- Report to a probation officer at least once per month
- Up to 180 days in jail as a condition of probation
Collateral Consequences of a Texas DWI Conviction
If you are convicted of a second, third, or subsequent DWI in Texas, you will be forced to endure many other consequences in addition to the statutory punishments. Having an additional, permanent misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record can affect your life in a number of ways, including:
- Higher auto insurance rates
- Difficulty obtaining or keeping a job
- Difficulty gaining admission to college
- Difficulty obtaining financial aid, including grants and scholarships
- Ineligibility for or difficulty obtaining a professional license
- A reduction in your child custody or visitation
- Consequences to your visa, permanent residency application, or citizenship application
- Inability to travel to certain countries, including Canada
If you are convicted of a felony, you will also lose your ability to vote for a period of time and lose your right to own firearms for the rest of your life. These consequences are serious, so if you are facing a DWI charge in Houston, call a multiple DWI lawyer immediately.
A Civil Driver’s License Suspension
When you are arrested for a DWI and you had a BAC above the legal limit or refused to take a chemical test, then you face an automatic administrative license revocation (ALR). An ALR is a civil punishment that begins 40 days after receiving notice, which is typically the same day as your arrest. It is a civil penalty, not a criminal one.
If you refused to provide a breath or blood sample and this is your first refusal, then the ALR is for 180 days. If you refused this time and have a previous refusal on your record, the ALR is for two years.
If you fail the breath or blood test, then a first-time failure results in a 90-day ALR. However, if you previously failed a breath or blood test, your license is suspended for 1 year.
When you are released from jail, the police will give you written notice of an ALR based on refusing or failing a breath or blood test. You only have 15 days after you receive notice to request an administrative hearing. If you do not request a hearing in time, your right to appeal the ALR is waived. If you get your request in on time, you and your attorney can go before an administrative judge and argue for your driving privileges to remain intact.
A Houston Multiple DWI Lawyer Can Help
When facing a second, third, or additional DWI in Texas, it is imperative you contact an experienced and tenacious Houston DWI attorney from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett as soon as possible. A second or subsequent DWI attorney will immediately go to work, protecting your rights during police questioning and the rest of the DWI legal process.
Attorney Ned Barnett has decades of experience, as a state and federal prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer. His time as a prosecutor gives him unique insight into how the DWI legal process plays out, and how his clients can best defend against criminal accusations. He is a board-certified criminal defense lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Attorney Ned Barnett’s years of experience and extensive knowledge regarding DWI testing make him effective in defending against first, second, and subsequent DWI charges. He has the information he needs to challenge the validity and accuracy of DWI test results in court.
Additionally, attorney Ned Barnett has a proven track record of obtaining the best possible outcomes in his clients’ cases. To learn how he can help you, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett online, or by calling (713) 222-6767.