Texas DWI Laws: DWI in Texas Second Offense

Did you know Sullo & Sullo Attorneys have MORE NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICTS at Houston Municipal Court than any other Law Firm (2009-2014, 2017, 2018)?

If you are facing a second offense DWI in Texas, then you already have some familiarity with Texas laws regarding DWI and DUI. Even though you may be familiar with the process, you may also be extremely anxious about your future, understanding that the court may not be inclined to be lenient for a second offense DWI. While a first DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, a second DWI in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor—more serious, but not a felony offense (unless someone was injured or killed as a result of your inebriation or you had a minor under the age of 15 in the vehicle at the time of your Texas DWI arrest).

Penalties for a Second DWI in Texas Offense - As noted, a second DWI in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties associated with a second DWI offense generally include:

  • From a mandatory three days in jail to one year in jail;
  • Fines as high as $4,000;
  • Up to two years of probation;
  • Mandatory DWI education classes;
  • A substance abuse evaluation;
  • The potential for a mandated rehabilitation program;
  • 80-200 hours of community service;
  • The possibility of having to attend a DWI Impact Panel, and
  • The possibility of having to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.

There is no “lookback period” in the state of Texas, meaning that any prior DWI or BWI (boating while intoxicated) conviction, no matter how old, will count as a prior conviction. There are many factors which can affect whether you will spend time in jail, and, if you are sentenced to jail, how much time you will serve. These factors include credits for good in-custody behavior, whether you qualify for a jail-alternative work program, and whether the judge suspends your sentence.

Driver’s License Suspension for a DWI in Texas Second Offense - If you are arrested in the state of Texas for DWI within ten years of a prior alcohol or drug-related “enforcement contact,” (a prior DWI or refusal to submit to chemical testing), you will face enhanced driver’s license suspensions and fees, regardless of whether you are eventually convicted of DWI in your criminal case. If you fail a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test, the arresting agency will take your driver’s license. You will have 15 days from the date you are arrested to contest the suspension.

If you fail to notify the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles within this 15-day period, your driver’s license will remain suspended for a full twelve years, beginning on the 41st day following your arrest. If you refuse a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test (a violation of Texas implied consent laws) your driver’s license will be suspended for two years. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles also imposes an annual surcharge of $1,500 per year for three years for a second offense DWI. The surcharge increases to $2,000 if you tested at .16 percent or higher.

While your driver’s license is suspended, if you have no prior alcohol-related driver’s license suspensions within the preceding five years, you are eligible to apply for an occupational driver’s license, which allows you to drive to and from work or school and to drive to and from necessary household errands. If you do have a prior alcohol-related driver’s license suspension within the last five years, you will be under a ninety-day “hard suspension” period, during which you cannot drive at all. Further, you are only eligible for an occupational license one time within any ten-year period.  

DWI in Texas Second Offense - A DWI in Texas second offense is a very serious charge; defending a second DWI is much more difficult than defending a first DWI in Texas, because the jurors are told about your prior DWI. This suggests you have a habit of driving under the influence, and can bias the jury against you right from the beginning. It will likely be necessary for your Houston DWI attorney to aggressively defend your second offense DWI in Texas, looking for any issue with your arrest, field sobriety tests, breathalyzer test or blood alcohol test which can potentially cause your charges to be dropped or for your sentence to be lessened. While you can potentially have the record of your first DWI in Texas sealed so future employers cannot see it, if you are convicted for a second DWI, you are not eligible to have this record sealed, making it a permanent part of your criminal record.

How a Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help - The goal of your Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI attorney is likely the same as your own—to minimize the damage to the extent possible. Of course, you do not want to spend time in Harris County jail or in prison. You also want to avoid Harris County criminal records whenever possible. Facing a Harris County district attorney on your own—particularly for a second DWI offense—is never a good idea. It is essential that your case gets off to the right start, which means having highly qualified representation in your corner prior to even leaving the jail, if possible. It can be much more complex to achieve a “not guilty” verdict on a second DWI than it is on a first DWI in Texas.

Your Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI lawyer may be able to show that your traffic stop was not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause, rather you were specifically targeted for no reasonable cause. There may also have been issues with your field sobriety tests—perhaps you take a medication which affects your balance, or you were wearing heels. The officer who administered your breathalyzer test may not have done so correctly, or the machine itself might not have been calibrated or properly maintained. We will look at all the circumstances of your DWI arrest, increasing your chances of a favorable verdict. If you have been arrested for a second DWI in Texas, contact the Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI attorneys for a comprehensive consultation, which results in clear options.