I’ve been charged with my 3rd DWI. Now what?

Besides the possible effect on your ability to drive and your reputation, having two DWI convictions on your record puts you at serious risk. That’s because if you are ever charged with DWI again, you will be facing a felony. If convicted, the judge might send you to prison for years.

Texas’ drunk driving statute raises the level of offense you face, depending on the number of prior DWIs on your record. A second offense is a Class A misdemeanor with a mandatory sentence of at least 30 days in jail.

A third offense bumps up the charge to a third-degree felony. That would mean a mandatory prison sentence of two to ten years, as well as a potential fine of up to $10,000. However, the judge has the authority to let you serve most of your sentence through probation. This is often the result of a plea bargain between the defense attorney and prosecutor. As part of your probation, you will likely have to complete up to 600 hours of community service, attend counseling or classes for substance abuse, and participate in DWI intervention programs.

A third DWI and your driver’s license

Aside from the criminal penalties, a third DWI conviction will cause a two-year suspension of your driver’s license. You may be able to get your driving privileges reinstated before then, but you will have to pay to install an ignition interlock device into your vehicle. This device requires you to blow into it before you can start your engine, so it can measure if you have any alcohol in your system. Ignition interlocks are expensive to install and maintain.

Your best chance of staying out of prison

Hopefully, you will never have to face drunk driving charges for a third time. But if it does happen, the prospect of going to prison for several years can be scary. Working with a defense attorney gives you the best chance of maintaining your freedom.

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