A DWI is a serious type of criminal offense in Texas. This is due to the fact that driving while intoxicated makes you a hazard on the roads. DWI can often lead to severe car accidents that result in injuries or even death. These offenses are not treated lightly, and they may result in harsh and lasting punishments. So, if you have been charged with a third DWI offense in Texas, the potential punishments and penalties are significantly more severe.
If you have been recently charged with your third DWI offense, you should contact Andrew Deegan DWI Attorney at Law. Facing consecutive DWIs can be stressful as it can potentially disrupt your life. Due to the severity of the situation, you need an attorney who is highly experienced in DWI laws and who can help you make a strong defense. If you are in the Fort Worth area, our team of attorneys is here for you when you need them the most.
DWI Offenses in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04, a DWI is defined as driving or operating a vehicle in any kind of public area while intoxicated. Intoxication means a state in which your physical or mental capabilities are decreased due to the presence of alcohol, prescriptions, drugs, illegal drugs, or a mixture within your body. Obviously, this is a crime since these types of substances can inhibit the proper motor functions which may be used to operate and drive a vehicle. Thus, this can create a potentially dangerous situation on the roads for, not only yourself but for anyone else around. Intoxicated driving is one of the major causes of car accidents, injuries, and death.
With a DWI in which alcohol is present, state laws specify that you may not have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level greater than 0.08%. Usually, if a patrol officer suspects that you are intoxicated, they may ask you to pull over and take a test to determine the amount of alcohol in your body. They may do this by testing your breath, your blood, or even your urine. However, even if you do have a BAC that is lower than the limit of 0.08%, you may still be charged with a DWI if your physical and mental capabilities are significantly impaired. This is largely due to the fact that alcohol may affect every individual differently. There may be different sobriety tests to determine your state of impairment if necessary.
It should also be noted that certain types of drivers may have lower BAC limits. For example, individuals younger than 21 years of age may not have any traceable amount of alcohol in their body while driving. Also, for commercial drivers, they may not have a BAC of 0.04% or greater. In cases in which you have a BAC of 0.15% or greater, you may receive an enhanced DWI offense.
- Sergio spent the night at a local bar with his buddies. After a couple of drinks, Sergio decides to go home. He drives himself home. A patrol officer notices Sergio frequently swerving into other lanes. The officer pulls him over, and the breathalyzer determines that Sergio has a BAC of 0.1%. Sergio is arrested and charged with a DWI.
A third offense DWI is received after you have already been convicted of two previous DWI offenses. Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.09, this is an example of an enhanced DWI offense. This offense may also apply if you have received two previous offenses similar to a DWI in another state. Also, it applies to any other type of DWI offense in the state of Texas. There is no limitation on how long ago the offenses took place. If you previously have received a DWI more than ten years ago and another one within the last year, they will both be considered in the court of law; thus, resulting in a third offense DWI. Again, you must have been convicted of the DWI in order to receive this offense—a DWI arrest is not enough.
As an enhanced DWI offense, the potential punishments you may be given will be significantly more severe than just a regular DWI. Also, depending on the circumstances around the DWI incident, the offense may even be furthered enhanced to include even greater punishments. This can include any aggravating circumstances around the previous DWI convictions as well.
Necessary Elements for a Third DWI Offense
When it comes to a DWI offense, a prosecutor needs to prove some specific elements to convict you of the DWI offense. Also, the prosecutor needs to prove these elements in court beyond a reasonable doubt. With a third offense DWI, it shares the same elements as any standard type of DWI charge besides the fact that needs to have been two previous DWI convictions. The essential elements that must be shown in any DWI case that you were:
- The individual driving or operating the vehicle,
- Driving the vehicle in any public area, and
- Intoxicated while operating the vehicle.
All of these elements must be proven in the court of law in order to be properly convicted of a DWI charge. When it comes to a third offense DWI, these elements still apply; however, the prosecutor must also show that you have been previously convicted of a DWI offense at least twice before the current incident.
Most of these elements are common sense. The first element necessitates that you were the individual driving or operating the vehicle. The second one states that you must be in a public area while you were driving. This may mean any roadway like a street, a highway, and more common driving areas.
The single most important element that has to be shown or proven in any DWI offense is that you were intoxicated while driving. Once again, intoxication is defined as being in a state where your physical and/or mental capabilities have been inhibited due to the presence of alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or a mixture in your body. Also, with alcohol, this can be made to include the BAC limit of 0.08%. This element may shift depending on the situation. Even if you had a BAC lower than the limit, you can still be charged if you were impaired due to any presence of alcohol or drugs in your system.
Lastly, in order to be convicted of a third offense DWI, you need to have been previously convicted of two DWIs. Again, this is can only be made to include convictions and not just arrests. Also, similar offenses in other states may be considered for this offense. When it comes to DWI convictions, this can include any DWI offense in your past whether it was yesterday or 25 years ago—it can still count.
If you fulfill all of these elements, then you may be charged and convicted of a third offense DWI in the state of Texas.
What Punishments May Result from a Third Offense DWI?
As an enhanced DWI offense, a third DWI offense can result in severe punishments that may also greatly impact your life. Of course, there may be more circumstances and details about your case that may further increase the possible punishments and penalties. This type of offense is considered to be a felony of the third-degree in Texas.
For a standard, first DWI offense, it Is only considered to be a class B misdemeanor in Texas. The possible punishments under this class include:
- Between 72 hours and 180 days in jail,
- A maximum $2,000 fine, or
- Both the fine and jail time.
However, if you have been charged with a DWI offense and it is your third with two previous convictions in the past, then the possible punishments will become greater. They may be made to include:
- Between two (2) and ten (10) years in jail,
- A maximum $10,000 fine, or
- Both the fine and jail time.
Of course, these sentences and fines may differ from case to case. It will also rely on your criminal history if you have any and if there are any elevating circumstances around your case. For example, if your DWI has also resulted in the injury or death of another individual, it may be furthered increased. With a third DWI offense, if one of your previous convictions resulted in a state prison sentence, you may be sentenced to serve 2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This is because this type of sentence is indicative of previous behavior that is greatly dangerous to others on the road.
Besides the jail time and the fine, your driver’s license could potentially be suspended as well. Depending on the details and severity of your offense, this suspension may last 180 days or up to two (2) years in some cases. This is a significant punishment since it may affect how you get around; thus, it may have a great impact on your daily life. If one of your previous DWI convictions resulted in a state prison sentence, then the license suspension may be increased up to two (2) years.
Also, if you have had a previous DWI conviction within the last five (5) years, then an ignition interlock device (IID) may have to be installed in your vehicle. This device will only allow you to drive after you breathe into it. If it detects any traceable amount of alcohol on your breath, you will not be able to operate your vehicle. This can be a major hassle for anyone. Usually, this device will have to be installed in your vehicle for up to one (1) year.
In some cases, you may also have to attend DWI education classes for a certain amount of time. Depending on your sentence, you may have to do community service for a set amount of time as well.
Similar and Related Types of DWI Offenses
With DWI offenses, there are many related offenses that you could potentially face. When it comes to these types of offenses, you could be faced with some offenses and not others as determined by the circumstances of your DWI case. A DWI can lead to a lot of issues for anyone on the road. The more severe the accident, the more severe the charges you could face. Below are some common types of related offenses you could potentially face.
DWI with a Child Passenger
One common type of related offense is a DWI with a child passenger. As defined by Texas Penal Code Section 49.045, if you are operating a vehicle while intoxicated with either drugs or alcohol and there is a passenger who is 15 or younger, you may be charged with this type of offense on top of the DWI. Even if this is your third DWI offense, you may still face this offense as well If there is a child in your vehicle when you are arrested.
This is just as serious as any other type of DWI offense especially since you are potentially putting a child’s life in danger of injury or even death. A DWI with a child passenger offense is a state jail type of felony in the state of Texas. As such, the possible penalties may range from a minimum 180 days to a 2-year jail sentence, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both the jail sentence and the fine. Also, your license could potentially be suspended or revoked for 180 days.
DWI Intoxicated Manslaughter
Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.08, if you are intoxicated, driving, and you cause the death of another individual, then you may be charged with a DWI intoxicated manslaughter offense. This may include the driver of another vehicle, a pedestrian, and any passenger in your vehicle—including a child. Obviously, this is a very serious crime. If on your third DWI offense, you get into an accident that results in the death of another individual, then you may also face this type of offense as well. As a second-degree felony, the possible punishments are severe. If you are convicted, you could possibly face a sentence of two (2) to twenty (20) years in prison. Also, you may be made to pay a maximum fine of $10,000. Besides this, you must fulfill many hours of community service.
DWI Intoxicated Assault
Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.07, if you are intoxicated, driving, and you get into a significant accident that causes another individual to sustain serious bodily injuries, you may be charged with a DWI intoxicated assault offense. This injury is usually the result of reckless and negligent driving that may result from intoxication with drugs or alcohol. This is a serious offense that may be charged alongside any type of DWI offense if the circumstances permit. For the purposes of this type of offense, a serious bodily injury is considered to be an injury that causes a possibility of death, leads to a permanent form of disfiguration, or creates a permanent impairment or loss of their bodily functions or organs.
In Texas, this is a third-degree felony. As such, the potential punishments can be made to include between two (2) and ten (10) years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both the prison sentence and the fine.
Refusing Chemical Testing
In Texas, if you have a driver’s license and if you drive a vehicle you are subjected to ‘implied consent.’ This means that if you are pulled over by an officer and he or she suspects that you are intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, you are obligated to take a chemical test if they ask you to. Due to your status as a driver in this state, you have previously consented to take this test. If you refuse to take a test, then your driver’s license may be suspended for 180 days and even up to 2 years. Again, this is a separate type of offense that may be charged alongside a DWI offense.
Potential Defenses for a Third DWI Offense
With a third DWI offense, there are still defenses that may be used in order to drop the charges. With an experienced DWI attorney, you may be able to construct a defense that disproves any of the necessary elements of a DWI or even reduce the charges. These elements include:
- You were the individual driving the vehicle,
- You were driving in a public space, and
- You were intoxicated on drugs or alcohol while driving.
If you are able to disprove these elements, then you may not be charged or convicted with this offense. Below are a couple of common defenses that may be used in order to fight against a third DWI offense such as you were not intoxicated and you have not been convicted of a DWI before.
One of the most important elements that should be proven is that you were intoxicated. Once again, intoxication is defined as a state in which your physical or mental capabilities have been inhibited due to the presence of alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or a mixture in your body. In other words, this means you have been impaired due to these substances. With alcohol, there is a set legal BAC limit of 0.08%, and this may be determined through a test. Even if your BAC is lower than this, you can still be charged.
However, if you can show that you were not actually intoxicated while you were driving and at the time of the arrest, then you may not be charged with a DWI. This is the key element in any DWI offense, and if a prosecutor cannot prove it, then the charges may be dropped. Yet, if you were driving negligent even while not intoxicated, you may still face other charges such as reckless driving—a significantly less serious offense.
You Have Not Been Convicted of a DWI Before
In order to be charged with a third DWI offense, you need to have been previously convicted of two different DWI offenses. If you have been arrested for a DWI, but not convicted of the offense, then it may not be considered. Although, it is important to remember that other similar types of offenses in other states may be considered, and may count towards a DWI if convicted. This also includes any type of DWI offense that you may have been convicted of, such as a DWI intoxicated manslaughter, a DWI intoxicated assault, and a DWI with a child passenger.
If it cannot be proven that you have been convicted of two other DWI offenses, then you may only face a first offense DWI which carries significantly less serious punishments. If you find yourself in this type of situation, you should remember that an arrest does not count towards this enhanced offense. If you are able to present evidence to support this claim, you may be able to use it as a defense along with the assistance of an experienced DWI attorney.
Locating a Qualified DWI Attorney Near Me
Are you currently facing a DWI offense? If so, you may need legal assistance to help you with your case—especially if it is your third DWI offense. Any type of DWI offense can lead to potentially severe punishments and penalties in the state of Texas. More than this, it can significantly impact your life in a negative manner. Despite this, you should know there are means through which a third offense DWI may be dropped or reduced. In order to achieve this, you may need the assistance of an experienced DWI attorney.
At Andrew Deegan DWI Attorney at Law, we are prepared to handle any type of DWI offense. Not only can we assist you with your legal case, but we can also make the whole process easier on you. If you need help, do not hesitate to contact our team at 817-470-2128 today. We can assist anyone in the Fort Worth Area. The sooner you speak with our team, the sooner we can start reviewing your case.