Avoiding The Consequences Of A Third DWI

Felony DWI prosecutions are somewhat rare in states that have 10-year lookback periods. But there is no such restriction in Texas, so as long as the prior conviction was after 1984, it can be used against defendants.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Houston

In Houston, a third DWI is a third degree felony. That means a maximum ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Even if the judge grants probation, which isn’t likely, or the prosecutor agrees to probation, which is even less likely, the conditions are onerous:

  • Maximum ten year term,
  • Ignition interlock device and possibly an order of no driving at all,
  •  Drivers’ license surcharge of up to $2,000 a year for three years,
  • Mandatory DWI education class,
  • Up to 200 hours community service, and
  • Maximum two year drivers’ license suspension.

Everyone convicted of a third DWI must serve at least ten days in jail, even if they get probation. Furthermore, in many cases, there’s no good time credit or credit for time served.

Some Defenses to Third DWI

The no-lookback provision is both a blessing and a curse. While prior convictions almost never drop off your record for DWI charging and sentencing purposes, remote convictions from more than ten years ago don’t look as bad to a jury. Moreover, everyone likes a good comeback story. For example, many people have two convictions within a few years of each other, get some help, and then have a setback fifteen or twenty years later. Some jurors will at least be somewhat willing to give these individuals another chance.

Very often, there are issues with the stop in third DWI cases. Many times, bored officers run a license plate number and discover that the driver has two prior convictions. The officers then hound the driver for several blocks, or even several miles, until he or she inevitably commits a minor traffic violation. Many jurors take a very dim view of such selective enforcement.

Finally, all of the defenses available in a first DWI are available in any other DWI case. Some of these defenses include:

  • Lack of Reasonable Suspicion: If an officer pulls over a defendant because of a third-party tip and not an offense committed in plain view, the stop is inherently suspect and susceptible to challenge.
  • Breathalyzer Issues: In borderline BAC cases, the Breathalyzer results are not always accurate.
  • Circumstantial Evidence: In refusal cases, the defendant often performed poorly enough on field sobriety tests to justify arrest, but not poorly enough to warrant a conviction. The latter requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors in many Texas jurisdictions never dismiss or lower DWI charges, no matter how weak the evidence is, so an aggressive defense often makes a very big difference.

Contact an Experienced Houston Attorney

Felony DWIs are extremely serious matters. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Houston, contact the Law Office of Jim Medley.

Written by

Jim Medley

For more than 20 years, attorney Jim Medley has perfected his craft in the field of criminal justice. He garnered extensive knowledge during his 12 years as a police officer in Texas, and applied that knowledge during his time as a professor of criminal law and criminal justice. Mr. Medley brings a unique skill set to the table, and as a result, he would be an invaluable asset in the courtroom should you need DWI or criminal defense in Houston.

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