Texas DWI Laws: DWI in Texas Third Offense

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It can be very frightening to be facing your third DWI in Texas. Not only are you looking at much more serious penalties, a third DWI in Texas is a felony, rather than a misdemeanor like the first and second DWIs. It is understandable that you are anxious about your future, and wondering what you need to do to minimize the damage to the extent possible.

The best thing you can do at this point is pick up the phone and contact an experienced Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI lawyer. Our goal will be to secure the best outcome possible, helping you avoid Harris County jail and Harris County criminal records to the extent possible. A DWI in Texas is a serious matter, whether it is a first, second, third, or subsequent DWI, however because a third DWI in Texas is a felony, you are looking at more far-reaching consequences.

Third DWI in Texas is a Third-Degree Felony - If you are convicted for a third DWI in Texas, you will be facing higher fines, a high likelihood of spending some time in jail or prison, significant community service, alcohol abuse classes and possibly even court-mandated alcohol rehab, and many other consequences associated with a felony conviction. You can expect questions from the Harris County District Attorney related to substance abuse since these charges are for your third DWI in Texas.

You may be asked about your prior DWIs, how you acquired them, and what steps you have taken to remedy your alcohol problems, how often you drink or use drugs, whether you have undergone substance abuse treatment in the past, and why you think treatment could help you.

You could pay fines and fees of as much as $10,000 for a third DWI in Texas, and could pay a $2,000 per year surcharge to the State of Texas every year for a period of three years once you have regained your driving privileges. You could spend from two to ten years in prison for a third DWI in Texas—this is in a state prison, not a county jail. 

You may be sentenced to up to two years of probation, as well as from 160 to 600 hours of community service for a third DWI in Texas. You may also have to attend a DWI Impact Panel, and may have to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle while your charges are pending. Following the reinstatement of your driver’s license you will still not be allowed to drive any vehicle without an installed ignition interlock device for a full year.

The Rights You Could Lose if You are Convicted of a Third DWI in Texas - There are a number of rights you could lose if you are convicted of your third DWI in Texas. The rights lost could include:

  • Losing your driver’s license for up to two years;
  • Losing the right to own a firearm;
  • Losing the right to secure a federal student loan;
  • Finding it very difficult to obtain employment;
  • Finding it difficult to rent an apartment or house, and
  • Being unable to obtain a professional license.

Finding Employment and Other Consequences of a Third or Fourth DWI in Texas - Should you get a fourth DWI in Texas, you will be facing a second-degree felony—a felony you will almost certainly serve time for. By your third and fourth DWIs, it is likely you will find that the loss of your driver’s license limits the jobs available to you—or makes it impossible to obtain employment at all. Yet while you may not be able to obtain employment—or may have very low-paying employment—you will still need money for attorney fees, court fines and fees, mandated counseling and DWI classes and, if you are still able to drive, fees for the ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for which you will pay a monthly fee.

It is extremely important to realize that there is no “lookback period” in the state of Texas. This means any prior DUI or BUI (boating under the influence) conviction, no matter how old, will count when determining a third offense DWI. If you are arrested for a DWI in Texas within ten years of a prior alcohol or drug related offense (a prior DWI or refusal to submit to chemical testing), the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles may impose enhanced driver’s license suspensions and fees—regardless of whether you are convicted of a third DWI or not.

If you fail the chemical test with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, your license will be suspended for one year. If you refuse a chemical test, your driver’s license will be confiscated and you will have 15 days to contest the suspension. If you fail to notify the Texas Department of Motor Vehicle within this timeframe, that you want to contest the suspension, your driver’s license will remain suspended for one year beginning on the 41st day following your arrest. The DMV suspension of your driver’s license will be set aside only if you are eventually acquitted of DWI in Texas during your criminal trial.

If you have no prior alcohol-related driver’s license suspensions within the prior five years, you may be eligible for an occupational driver’s license, which will allow you to drive to and from work, to and from school and on certain errands necessary to accomplish essential household tasks. If you have received a driver’s license suspension within the prior five years for a DUI or DWI in Texas, then you will have a 90-day “hard suspension” period during which you cannot drive at all before you are able to obtain an occupational driver’s license. Further, you may only obtain an occupational driver’s license in the state of Texas once in a ten-year period.

How Sullo & Sullo Can Help - If you have been charged with a third-offense DWI in Texas, you must take the charges very seriously. A Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI attorney can help you through this difficult time in your life, even though it may seem as though you have no place to turn, and few options. We believe that good people sometimes make mistakes, and we want to help you through this mistake, working hard to ensure the outcome is the least serious outcome possible. An experienced Sullo & Sullo Houston criminal defense attorney will fight hard for your rights and your future following charges for a third DWI in Texas.