2nd DWI Offense
Texas defines DWI—driving while intoxicated—in Penal Code § 49.04. One commits DWI if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public space. DWIs are considered Class B misdemeanors in Texas. The minimum jail sentence for a Texas DWI is 72 hours.
However, if the driver is arrested with an open container in their possession, the minimum jail sentence is increased to 6 days. The misdemeanor would be elevated to Class A if the driver had a BAC of 0.15 or higher. Additionally, the driver can face enhanced penalties beyond their base charge if they have been convicted of DWI at least once.
Austin 2nd DWI Lawyer | Travis County, TX
In the state of Texas, driving while intoxicated is a serious charge that’s meant to penalize an action that’s seen as threatening to public safety. If you have been arrested for 2nd DWI, you could face significant fines and time spent behind bars. In a difficult scenario such as this, attorney Jackson Gorski at The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski can represent you should you desire legal representation to fight back against prosecution.
Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin and Georgetown but accepts clients throughout Texas including Travis County, Williamson County, Bell County, Bastrop County, Burnett County, Hays County, Caldwell County, Blanco County, Lee County, Milam County, Hays County, and Caldwell County. Your first consultation is free, so call 512-960-4646 today.
- Misdemeanor Penalties For Texas DWIs
- Other Consequences For A Secondary DWI
- Sentencing Enhancements For Multiple Misdemeanor Convictions
- Defense Strategies For Second-Time DWI Defendants
- Additional Resources
Misdemeanor Penalties For Texas DWIs
In most circumstances, DWIs will be charged and/or punished as misdemeanors in Texas. The penalties for misdemeanors in Texas are set forth by Texas Penal Code Chapter 12. A Class A misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor in Texas, while a Class C misdemeanor is the least serious. The sentencing guidelines for misdemeanor convictions in Texas are as follows:
- Class A: Punishable by up to $4,000 in fines and one year in jail
- Class B: Punishable by up to $2,000 in fines and 180 days in jail
- Class C: Punishable by up to $500 in fines
Other Consequences For A Secondary DWI
Fines and jail time are not the only possible penalties for DWI convictions in Texas, including a second-time conviction. One of the penalties that a secondary DWI defendant will face is an ignition interlock device requirement. An ignition interlock device, or an IID, requires the driver to blow and test their blood alcohol content before their vehicle can start. Essentially, a driver with an IID needs to prove they are sober each time they wish to start their car. The IID order will typically last for one year. An IID isn’t just inconvenient because it requires the driver to test their sobriety each time they start their vehicle (possibly even more frequently). IIDs are expensive to install, inspect, and maintain.
Using an IID is usually a requirement for someone whose driver’s license has been suspended due to a DWI. The driver’s license suspension for a second DWI is 180 days to two years. This considerable period can affect the defendant’s employability, social life, and more. The driver might be able to get a license for limited purposes such as school or work. Either way, an IID will need to be installed on any vehicle the defendant drives during the court-ordered period, including if the defendant borrows the vehicle of a friend or family member.
One consequence of a DWI conviction that many fail to recognize is that the defendant’s auto insurance rates will skyrocket. A driver convicted of DWI must maintain SR-22, or high-risk, auto insurance, which usually costs at least double the rate of a standard auto insurance policy. Regaining driving privileges after a secondary Texas DWI conviction can be highly expensive, with additional costs like an IID and license reinstatement fees.
Sentencing Enhancements For Multiple Misdemeanor Convictions
Texas Penal Code § 12.43 sets sentencing enhancements for someone convicted of more than one misdemeanor. Because DWIs are generally charged as misdemeanors, this could be highly relevant for someone facing a second DWI charge in Texas. The sentencing enhancements depend on the current level of criminal charge, as well as the level of any prior conviction(s). While a first-time, low-level misdemeanor may not even come with jail time, the sentencing enhancements can make a subsequent misdemeanor conviction quite serious.
- Subsequent Class A Misdemeanor: 90 days to 1 year in jail, maximum of $4,000 in fines
- Subsequent Class B Misdemeanor: 30 to 180 days in jail, maximum of $2,000 in fines
- Subsequent Class C Misdemeanor: Maximum 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines
The defendant’s misdemeanor penalties can be enhanced if the previous charge is of at least the same class or is a felony conviction. Someone who has already been convicted of DWI will not be eligible for Texas’ deferred adjudication program for first-time offenders.
Defense Strategies For Second-Time DWI Defendants
Unfortunately, deferred adjudication is not available to defendants who have already faced at least one DWI charge. That does not mean defendants facing a second or subsequent DWI charge in Texas should not try to utilize plea bargaining. Plea bargaining is the process of pleading guilty to criminal charges as a deal with the prosecution. The plea may come with a reduced charge or penalties in the lower range of the sentencing guidelines for Texas.
There are several methods a defense attorney can use when plea bargaining with the prosecution. The lawyer may have their client complete drug and alcohol treatment preemptively or try to find reasons to have evidence in the case excluded from court. Additionally, just because someone has been convicted of DWI previously doesn’t mean they lose certain constitutional rights when investigated for suspicion of DWI.
Because fewer avenues are available when a defendant has already been convicted of DWI at least once, they may want to try attacking the validity of chemical samples demonstrating their level of intoxication at the time of arrest. The police may not have followed proper protocol while testing the defendant, which a high-quality defense attorney can uncover in cross-examination. The sample may not be adequately stored, contained, or transferred, which represents a deficiency in the disposition of the evidence. Errors related to the disposition of the evidence from collection to use at trial are called chain of custody errors. When these types of evidence exhibits are excluded from the court, the prosecution may not have sufficient evidence to continue their case against the defendant.
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 – Texas’ law regarding driving while intoxicated. This is a distinct offense from DUI, or driving under the influence.
Texas Penal Code Chapter 12 – The criminal penalties for various offenses in Texas, including misdemeanor DWI convictions.
Texas Penal Code § 12.43 – Sentencing enhancements for prior misdemeanor convictions in Texas.
Georgetown 2nd DWI Defense Attorney | Williamson County, TX
An arrest for a 2nd DWI means that if you’re charged again for DWI, your case will be classified a felony and you’ll be handled as such by law enforcement officers who understand what felons have to lose and the elevation of the stakes involved. Fighting 2nd offense DWI allegations can be difficult to tackle alone. Seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer such as attorney Jackson F. Gorski at The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski.
Attorney Jackson F. Gorski is an experienced Austin DWI lawyer who knows the best methods to effectively defend an individual facing DWI charges in Travis County. He can preserve your freedom.
The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski accepts DWI cases in Austin and Georgetown, TX. Call 512-960-4646 to secure a free consultation today.