A 1st DWI offense is considered a Class B misdemeanor, and 2nd Offense is considered a Class A Misdemeanor.
However, having two prior DWI convictions creates a third offense felony.
The penalties for a third DWI vary depending on the number of prior convictions you have, the severity of the offense, the time span over which the offenses occurred, and other factors, such as whether a child was in the vehicle.
A 3rd Offense DWI is considered a Felony in the third degree, and is treated very seriously under Texas law.
As in other states, in Texas, a person is considered legally intoxicated, and may be arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), if he or she has a BAC of .08 or higher.
A person can still be considered intoxicated if they are impaired, even when your BAC is lower than .08.
Other indications of impairment can stem from a police officer’s observations and field sobriety tests.
If you are arrested for a DWI when you have a passenger under 15 years old, you may also be charged with child endangerment.
For a DWI with a child passenger, you can face up to a $10,000 fine, up to two years in jail, and a 180 days license suspension.
If you refuse to take a blood or breath test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for 180 days.
If you refuse two or more times in the span of two years, your license may be automatically be suspended for two years.
For a Third DWI Offense, there is a $10,000 fine, a minimum of 2 years and up to 10 years in prison, loss of driver’s license up to two years, plus an annual fee of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for three years to retain your driver’s license.
Additionally, if you have two or more DWI convictions in the span of 5 years, you must have an interlock system installed in your car that checks your BAC level before allowing you to drive.
3rd DWI Offense by Underage Drivers
For drivers under 21, Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for any detectable amount of alcohol.
For underage persons charged with DWI as adults (typically 17 to 20 years of age), a 3rd offense is also a felony of the third degree, and penalties include; a fine of up to $10,000, a minimum of 2 years and up to 10 years in prison, and loss of license for a minimum of 180 days and up to 2 years.
For minors under 17, a 3rd DWI offense carries a fine of up to $500, 40-60 hours of community service, and license suspension for a minimum of 180 days, up to 2 years.
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About the Author: Andrew Williams I am a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years experience defending people accused of wrongdoing. I am board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Only ten percent of attorneys in Texas are board certified in their respective field. I practice criminal law exclusively in both state and federal court including appeals of criminal cases.