What Happens When You Get 2 DWIs in Texas?
Getting a DWI conviction is a serious offense in Texas. However, matters become even direr if one gets a second DWI, no matter how far apart in time the two transgressions are.
What exactly happens when one gets two DWIs in Texas? Here is what every driver needs to know, including all types of punishments that courts may impose.
What Is a DWI?
In Texas, DWI stands for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired. In most cases, people get a DWI if a police officer pulls them over for breaking a traffic law and discovers that they have drunk alcohol or taken some psychoactive substance. Officers can assess the level of a person’s impairment through a series of roadside sobriety tests.
Is Texas a zero-tolerance state when it comes to DWI cases?
If one fails the tests, police take them to the local police station or jail, where the person is to sober up. Though offenders are usually released on bond immediately after, getting arrested is just the beginning of a long process of a DWI trial.
Most of the time, people do not serve jail time on their first DWI. They usually have to pay a fine and do community service or comply with any other type of rehabilitative measure a court deems appropriate.
What Happens After a Second DWI?
However, matters are more complicated if a person commits a second DWI offense. Such an offense is classified as a class A misdemeanor in the state, which comes with serious repercussions.
Before any conviction can be made, the state first has to prove a person drove a vehicle while intoxicated. In other words, an arrest does not immediately translate to a misdemeanor sentence. Instead, both sides build a case, and the court makes the final decision.
The maximum fine one might have to pay for a second DWI is $6,000. But the overall cost is usually much higher, as the person has to pay for court fees and a lawyer.
While a first DWI requires no jail time, the same does not apply for a second conviction. If a court deems the defendant guilty, they must complete a three-day jail sentence even if their only punishment is probation.
Still, this sentence is only the required minimum. One might have to serve up to a year in prison for a second DWI, especially if they already have a criminal record in the state.
Other Important Factors
Most people believe that an old DWI cannot influence how a court sees their newest offense. But in reality, there is no statute of limitations on DWI convictions. Thus, even if the first DWI happened decades ago, the state can still use it to serve out a harsher punishment. In fact, the court can even use a dismissed DWI case to enhance a 2nd offense sentence.
Apart from prior DWIs, criminal records in other states can also hurt an individual’s case. For example, having a DWI in another state and getting a second one in Texas results in the conviction as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. As such, the repercussions are far more severe.
Additional Second DWI Consequences
Thousand dollar fines and jail time are not the only consequences of a second DWI. Namely, offenders also have to comply with a 24-month probation period. The length might be shorter based on the court’s decision, but it is seldom reduced to less than one year.
In addition, people have to install ignition interlock devices in all their vehicles. Put simply, these devices are breathalyzers that prevent people from starting their vehicle after drinking alcohol. People usually have to keep them for as long as they are on probation.
Finally, a second DWI can also lead to a person losing their driver’s license for up to 2 years. It is important to request an appeal hearing immediately upon the arrest, as there is only a 15-day window until the license suspension. The appeal can allow a person to keep their permit until the end of the trial.
The Importance of Legal Help
Getting the top DWI lawyer in Fort Worth to help with case proceedings is essential for a fair hearing. The lawyer can appeal to reduce all sentences, from probation time to court fines. Moreover, they can even get a dismissal if they can prove that the police unlawfully stopped the offender. Either way, a skilled lawyer can make a significant difference when it comes to issues related to second DWIs. They can even help one find out what a DWI can be reduced to in Texas.