What is the Punishment for a Felony DWI in Texas 3rd?

When a person asks about the repercussions of a DWI in Texas 3rd offense, unfortunately, it means that they already have had previous DWI convictions beginning with a DWI 1st conviction. Then a DWI 2nd conviction. A 3rd DWI conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine. 

DWI in Texas First Offense

A person really wants to avoid the first offense with a strong desire. Once a DWI first offense gets on a person’s record, it follows them around forever. It makes it very difficult to avoid subsequent DWI convictions if later drunk driving charges come up.

DWI in Texas 2nd Offense

Once charged with a 2nd DWI in Texas a person will need to bond out of jail. Typically the average bail amount for a 2nd DWI is $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the circumstances of the arrest. In Texas, it is mandatory to have an ignition interlock device on a person’s vehicle during the whole time while on bond for a 2nd or subsequent DWI charge.

Texas Bail Bondsman

The bail amount is fairly standardized in each county and will vary. An accident, among other factors, can affect the amount of bond and bond conditions. Once on bond, there will be requirements to complete which is a topic for another post. The court process will take some time to get started. The police will turn in their case to the prosecutor’s office, which is the district attorney or county attorney depending on which Texas county the arrest occurred in. The case will then need to be heard by a grand jury who will either true bill or no bill the case. A true bill means at least 9 of the grand jurors found the evidence sufficient for the charge to be indicted. Whichever court will have the case may have been already been requiring periodic appearances. But once the case is indicted court appearances will begin soon after.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hopefully, by now, the driver has hired a criminal defense lawyer. With DWI cases, there is a separate drivers license issue that needs attention from a skilled DWI attorney. But with that issue aside, the best drunk driving lawyers would have already been collecting evidence to begin setting up his or her case. There may be breath or blood test evidence that needs to be investigated as well as possibly an accident reconstruction investigation. The court appearances will be where most of the discussion and negotiating takes place between the defense lawyer and the prosecutor.

3rd DWI in Texas Probation

The punishment for a DWI 3rd can be up to 10 years probation or possibly prison time. A major factor during plea negotiations is whether the person has much criminal history on their record. More specifically, the number of previous DWI convictions and also how recent they are. If there are already non-DWI felony convictions on a person’s record, it can be a problem during negotiations as well. If the prosecutor refuses to offer probation and only a prison sentence, the other option is to have a judge or jury decide. This may require a jury trial or a bench trial in front of the judge.

Can a DWI Be Dismissed in Texas?

While working up the case and examining the evidence, the defense attorney may discover problems with the evidence. There is critical evidence that needs to be proven by the state. The first important factor would be whether the person is the driver and whether they were actually operating the vehicle while intoxicated. Other important issues are whether the breath or blood test concludes intoxication. Just because there is a breath or blood test, does not mean it was conducted properly and should be trusted.

Reckless Driving Texas

The next best thing to winning a DWI case in trial or getting is dismissed is getting a DWI reduced to another charge such as reckless driving. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor and has far less negative implications than a DWI conviction. In order to get this charge, the DWI case needs to be dismissed and refiled as a reckless driving charge in court. It takes a diligent and knowledgeable DWI attorney to study the evidence in order to negotiate a reduction in the case.

DWI in Texas 2nd Offense

Another factor in negotiations is to try and reduce the case to a level where it is not a felony conviction. This is a comprise where the driver avoids a felony and the state still gets a conviction for future use if another DWI case should take place. A felony can be very detrimental for certain jobs and employment licensing.

Blood Alcohol Level in Texas

Another factor in negotiations is the blood alcohol level of the driver. If a breath or blood test was done, it will usually produce a test result with the alcohol level at the time of the test. The state will then make some assumptions about what the test was at the time of driving based on observations, time passed, and questions answered by the driver to the police. In Texas, the legal limit is .08 at the time of driving. An extremely high blood alcohol test can complicate plea negotiations for the best possible outcome for the driver.  There is another way to prove the case without an amount based on loss of mental or physical faculties. This route is a much more vague way to prove the case of intoxication.  There are many non-intoxicating factors that can cause a person to appear intoxicated when they are not.

How Much Does a DWI Cost in Texas?

Each lawyer has their own fee that they think is a fair charge for their services. But the cost for a felony DWI will run several thousand dollars in most cases beginning with a bondsman charging 10 percent. There will usually be other bond condition fees such as the ignition interlock device cost. This is a mandatory bond condition in Texas starting with a DWI 2nd offense charge. The monthly bond supervision fee can be around $60 per month paid usually to the probation department. Once the case is over, there will be court cost and fines. These fees will not apply if the case is dismissed or there was an acquittal by a judge or jury. But if there is an agreement in court or a verdict, the court costs can be as much as $500 and a 3rd-degree felony fine up to $10,000. The dollar amount of a DWI can really vary in range.

Author: Eric Torberson

Eric Torberson is a licensed attorney in Texas as well as licensed in the federal courts of the southern and western districts of Texas.