People arrested for impaired driving in Texas might assume that they will only face minor penalties. Such assumptions are common particularly when people face the first real criminal charge of their lives.
However, people sometimes also fail to recognize how serious subsequent offenses can be after a first conviction. They may have a false sense of confidence because a judge was lenient while sentencing them previously. Those who break the same law multiple times will frequently face more serious penalties with each conviction. For example, a third DWI charge in Texas is not an insignificant concern.
It will be classified as a felony charge
There are certain circumstances in which Texas prosecutors can bring felony charges against someone accused of a first or second DWI. Certain aggravating factors allow the state to bring more serious charges in an impaired driving case. No special elements need to be present for felony charges when someone has two prior DWIs on their record. State law makes a third or subsequent DWI offense and automatic felony.
A conviction will risk major penalties
A third DWI conviction will result in much more serious penalties. The fine possible more than doubles to $10,000. The possible prison sentence increases to between two and 10 years. The defendant will also face up to two years without a driver’s license. The exact consequences someone faces for a DWI will depend on the discretion of the judge and their record, as well as the details of their arrest. However, the basic penalties possible will be more severe for a third or subsequent charge.
A felony offense on one’s record could make securing rental housing or a good job more of a challenge. Some people will, therefore, mount of more aggressive defense to a third charge than they would to a first or second. Others may be inspired by potential third-time penalties as a reason to more assertively defend against first or second DWI charges. Learning about the rules that apply for DWI cases in the Lone Star State may help those accused of impairment at the wheel decide how best to approach their defense strategies as a result.