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What Happens After A Second And Third DWI In Texas?

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Originally Posted On: What Happens After a Second and Third DWI in Texas? | Scott M. Brown & Associates (



In the United States, one person dies every 50 minutes in a drunk-driving crash.

Punishments will vary by state, but these crimes carry heavy consequences. This is especially true for those charged with a second or third DWI in Texas.

The state of Texas defines intoxication as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. This applies to adult, non-commercial drivers.

You may still be considered intoxicated even below .08. This would be when failing to display normal mental and physical abilities, due to consumption of alcohol or drugs.

When arrested for DWI, there are two different cases filed against you.

The first is a civil case, filed by the Department of Public Safety. These consequences involve suspension of license.

A criminal case is also filed. This carries more severe consequences, including heavy fines and potential jail time. Plus, those under the influence of drugs may face additional drug charges.

The actual punishments depend on the severity of the circumstances—including how many prior DWI offenses you have. By your second or third DWI in Texas, the penalties are extremely serious.

If you’re wondering what happens on your third DWI in Texas, keep reading.

First DWI in Texas

For your first DWI in Texas, the penalties will vary based on the circumstances of the condition. Most of the time, a first DWI conviction in Texas is a misdemeanor.

Generally speaking, a first DWI conviction in the state can result in a fine of up to $2,000. You will also lose your license for at least 90 days, spanning up to one year.

A First DWI still carries the threat of jail time. A judge can sentence between three to 180 days in jail. Plus, you may be sentenced to a DWI educational program, community service, and/or probation.

When children under the age of 15 are in the car, the penalties only grow steeper. These cases result in fines of up to $10,000. Your driver’s license can get revoked for at least 180 days, and you face the threat of jail time for up to two years.

It’s also important to note that these fines do not include a state-mandated fine ranging between $3,000-$6,000, assessed upon sentencing.

Second DWI in Texas

For your second DWI in Texas, the penalties grow much more serious. Generally, a second DWI in Texas is a class A misdemeanor.

This is where the court begins to view you as a repeat offender. This can also put a negative stain on your file when applying for some jobs, as well.

On a second DWI conviction (and other subsequent convictions), it appears to the court that you did not learn your lesson the first time. This makes defending your case more difficult, truly requiring an expert.

If arrested in Texas with ten years of a previous drug or alcohol-related incident, the DMV can levy administrative penalties. This includes greater license suspensions and fees—even if you are not convicted of your second DWI.

The potential fine raises to $4,000. The threat of jail time becomes more real, as well. You face between one month and one year in jail upon conviction.

Loss of license will be implemented for at least 18 months, with a potential loss for up to two years. There is also a $100 reinstatement fee to get your license back.

Furthermore, the court takes additional steps to prevent you from repeating these actions. You are likely to face a DWI education class. A substance abuse evaluation and/or rehabilitation program may also follow.

Community service requirements also increase after your second DWI in Texas. The standard sentence in this respect ranges from 80 to 200 hours.

With multiple convictions, you are usually required to have your car fitted with an ignition interlock device. This mandates the passage of a breathalyzer test, prior to allowing your vehicle to start.

It’s also important to note that there is no “loopback period” in Texas for these charges. That means that any DWI conviction will count toward the tally of offenses—no matter how old.

Third DWI in Texas

If arrested in Texas within ten years of a previous incident regarding drugs or alcohol “enforcement contact,” you can face administrative penalties from the DMV. These can still apply, even if you are not ultimately convicted of a DWI.

If convicted of a third DWI in Texas, the court takes punishment very seriously.

In addition to court-mandated fees and other penalties, it’s also important to consider other costly factors. This includes:

  • Legal fees
  • Time off work
  • Cost of ignition interlock devices
  • Increased insurance rates
  • Bail costs
  • Car towing/impound fees
  • Potential loss of job opportunities

All things considered, the cost of a DWI in Texas is extremely high. This only increases with more and more convictions.

Is a Third DWI a Felony in Texas?

A third DWI conviction in Texas is a third-degree felony.

While some DWI charges can get expunged from your record, it’s extremely unlikely a third offense will be actually removed.

What Is the Penalty for a Third DWI in Texas?

The penalties for a third DWI in Texas are steep.

If convicted, penalties include a $10,000 fine. You could also face between two and ten years in prison. Plus, you may lose your license for up to two years.

If convicted, you will also face up to two years’ probation. You will likely need to complete a DWI education class, and may even have to attend a DWI impact panel.

Plus, you will likely face a substance abuse evaluation and/or rehabilitation program. 160 to 600 hours of community service are also standard for a third DWI in Texas.

As with a second offense, an ignition interlock device is a common penalty for a third DWI in Texas. This is required while all charges are pending. It carries over for one year following your license reinstatement, as well.

Enhanced Felony Charge for Repeat Offenders

For repeat DWI offenders, they may also face what is known as an “enhanced felony” charge. This is designed to tack on additional punishments to those offenders who have a notable criminal history.

For example, Josh Randall Riley was recently charged with 40 years in prison for his third DWI offense in Kerrville, Texas. Riley had two previous convictions for misdemeanor DWI.

But since Riley had additional felony convictions for crimes including assault on a public servant and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, the judge took a step further.

The judge tacked on a habitual offender enhancement to this case, which increased his jail time to 40 years. Without this additional enhancement, he would have faced a maximum of 10 years.

Riley represented himself in these proceedings, only adding to the severity of the sentence.

What to Do After a Third DWI in Texas

One of the first steps you should take after being charged with a third DWI in Texas is to consult with an experienced attorney.

Of course, you have the legal right to represent yourself in court. However, a third DWI is a very serious charge, with very serious consequences if convicted. Once these sentences are handed down, there is no taking them back.

Plus, the legal system can be complicated for a layperson to navigate. With so much on the line, it’s imperative to get it right. This is where a DWI lawyer comes into play.

You may find yourself wondering about the services of a public defender. However, these individuals are often overworked, and underpaid. They may have a large caseload distracting them from putting their full attention into your case.

It’s also important to remember that the prosecutor representing the state of Texas’s interests will be a seasoned professional. It’s only logical that you have a trusted DWI attorney defending your interests, as well.

When selecting a DWI attorney, be sure to carefully weigh your options. This legal team will be responsible for defending your case against the court, and the effectiveness of their skills will directly impact the sentence you may receive if convicted.

The state of Texas takes DWI cases very seriously. Your attorney should, as well.

Turning to the DWI Defense Experts in Texas

After a third DWI in Texas, it’s imperative that you understand the severity of the consequences. The best thing you can do to help yourself is to hire a qualified DWI attorney to defend your case in the courtroom.

In the Houston, Texas area, Scott M. Brown & Associates is here to help. With years of experience, our trusted team will fight for the best possible outcome under your circumstances.

We have years of experience helping DWI clients get their life back on track, all throughout Texas. Contact us today for a consultation, and to find out how we can help your case.

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