A third DWI charge can result in far more severe consequences than for a first or second offense. Third-offense DWI charges are often felonies, which can result in prison time and high fines, in addition to collateral consequences such as the loss of civil rights and an inability to hold some professional licenses. As a result, getting advice from a Fort Worth third-offense DWI lawyer may be highly beneficial.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer could defend you against the current DWI charge and also attempt to prevent your previous convictions from enhancing any potential sentence. By retaining legal counsel, you may position yourself to fight back more effectively against the charges.
Felony DWI Charges in Fort Worth
Texas Penal Code § 49.09 provides that individuals who have two prior convictions for DWI or DWI-related offenses, no matter when those offenses occurred, will face third-degree felony charges. Unlike the laws in other states, Texas law does not limit the “look-back” period for prior DWI convictions to a specific number of years. Instead, prior DWI convictions can follow defendants for the rest of their lives.
In addition to DWI, similar offenses such as boating while intoxicated, flying while intoxicated, and operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated all qualify as a prior DWI conviction. A third-offense DWI attorney in Fort Worth may be able to help prevent or reduce felony DWI charges in some circumstances.
Penalties for Third-Offense DWI Convictions
Under Texas Penal Code § 12.34, individuals convicted of third-degree felony DWI may face a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000. Aside from the statutory sanctions, individuals may also receive the following penalties:
- Community supervision or probation for up to two years
- Hundreds of hours of community service
- License suspension
- Mandatory ignition interlock device installation and monitoring
While conditions of probation vary widely, judges routinely require regular meetings with probation officers, random drug and alcohol testing, and substance abuse education courses, assessments, and counseling. The judge may implement some of these provisions as the conditions of bond after an arrest.
Financial Implications of Fort Worth Third-Offense DWI Charges
The economic impact of a third-offense DWI conviction can be substantial. Individuals must pay reinstatement fees to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) following any license suspension in addition to fees for a restricted license. The installation costs and monthly monitoring and service fees for maintaining an ignition interlock device are also substantial. Additionally, car insurance rates are likely to increase, as individuals must obtain high-risk vehicle insurance.
DPS also assesses annual surcharges for DWI and certain other driving-related offenses. Surcharges can amount to up to $2,000 each year for three years, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Reach Out to a Fort Worth Third-Offense DWI Attorney
If you were arrested for a third DWI, you should seriously consider retaining legal counsel. With a full understanding of your situation, a Fort Worth third-offense DWI lawyer could advise you about the defense strategy most likely to achieve your goals. Although DWI charges are not often dismissed outright, there may be ways to reduce the charges or minimize the penalties that you could face for a conviction. Call today to schedule a consultation and begin working towards a positive resolution of your charges.