If a court has found you guilty of driving under the influence twice before, you may face felony charges if you are convicted a third time. Because of the high-stakes nature of this issue, you may wish to consult with an Austin third-offense DWI lawyer about your legal options.
As a seasoned DWI attorney could affirm, a felony conviction could result in significant jail time, substantial fines, and loss of driving privileges, as well as other consequences related to a felony conviction. Some employers do not work with convicted felons, and some landlords may refuse to rent to you. You may also find that your right to own a firearm or vote is affected.
Consequences of a Felony DWI Conviction
Besides the immediate consequences related to a judicial ruling, a defendant convicted of felony DWI may also experience additional consequences, including loss of professional licenses, ineligibility for certain governmental benefits, and deprivation of the right to vote and bear arms. Often, a felony conviction remains on a person’s permanent criminal record for life.
Some current and future employers require that an employee disclose finds of guilt in felony cases. Also, a conviction would appear in background checks. Without help from an Austin third-offense DWI attorney, a defendant may have trouble avoiding these and other serious effects of this type of conviction.
Third-Offense DWI Laws in Austin
First offenses of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are addressed in Texas Penal Code §49.04. T.P.C. §49.09 establishes enhanced penalties for a third offense of DWI and defines it as a third-degree felony.
Prison Sentencing for Drunk Driving
Because a third-offense DWI is a felony in Austin, a convicted driver may face two to ten years in prison, although a skilled lawyer may be able to negotiate that sentence down to supervised probation. No matter what, if found guilty, a defendant must serve ten days in prison.
If a defendant receives probation, the court may require:
- 600 hours of community service
- Substance abuse classes
- Substance abuse counseling
- DWI intervention programs
The maximum fine for a third-offense DWI is $10,000, plus court costs. Also, the court may require a driver to pay for counseling services and the price of an interlock ignition device, among other expenses.
Furthermore, upon a finding of guilt of a third-offense DWI, the court will suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for two years unless exceptional circumstances exist. A driver may be able to drive again after they install an interlock ignition device. Even after a driver has their license reinstated, they may have to pay for an unusual licensing fee of $2,000 for three years.
Sit Down with an Austin Third-Offense DWI Attorney
You may not know the best path forward when you are facing felony charges, but you may feel more at ease once you speak with an Austin third-offense DWI lawyer to discuss the allegations you are facing. There are many potential strategies that you and your attorney could use to pursue a positive outcome in your case, so call today to schedule a consultation.