In Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is covered under Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code. This section covers the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs like LSD, cocaine, and methamphetamine, etc., and prescription drugs, whether they are legally prescribed or obtained illegally.
Like many criminal offenses, the penalties for DWI increase each time the defendant is charged with DWI again. For example, the penalties for a second DWI are stiffer than they are for the first, and the penalties for a third DWI are harsher than they are for a second DWI offense. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to discuss the penalties for a third DWI in Texas and whether a third DWI is a misdemeanor or a felony.
Texas Law on a 3rd DWI
For starters, a first and second DWI in Texas are both misdemeanors providing there were no “aggravating factors” present, which basically make the DWI more serious. Examples of aggravating factors include a drunk or drugged driving incident that caused serious bodily injury or death to someone other than the impaired driver.
A third DWI in Texas is a felony offense. The penalties for a third DWI include:
- $10,000 fine
- Between 2 and 10 years in prison
- Up to two-year driver’s license suspension
- Defendant has to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 annually for three years to keep their driver’s license
Note: If the defendant has had two or more DWI convictions within a five year period, he or she will have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), which prevents their vehicle from starting when they have been drinking alcohol.
How much alcohol is too much? The Texas Department of Transportation says: “Impairment begins with the first drink. Your gender, body weight, the number of drinks you've consumed and the amount of food you've eaten affect your body's ability to handle alcohol. Two or three beers in an hour can make some people legally intoxicated. Women, younger people and smaller people generally become impaired with less alcohol.”
Related: Second DWI Penalties in Texas
Facing third DWI charges? Contact Peter Barrett for a hard-hitting defense!