If you’ve been arrested for a second DWI in Texas, you have good reason to be concerned. With thousands of drunk driving crashes occurring on state roads yearly, the law takes a hard stance on repeat offenders. You could be facing fines, mandatory jail time, and a criminal record that affects your career, family life, and access to opportunities.
At Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC, we understand the impact of a second Texas DWI conviction on your future. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys know what’s at stake for you and use our experience, resources, and legal acumen to fight for a successful resolution. In this blog, we go over how long DWIs can stay on your record, the consequences of a second conviction, and how a DWI defense lawyer can help.
What is the Difference Between a DWI and DUI in Texas?
In the state of Texas, both DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) are terms used to refer to impaired driving offenses involving alcohol or drugs. However, they aren’t the same charge- below is an overview of the differences between them.
- DWI (Driving While Intoxicated): In Texas, DWI refers to cases involving individuals who are 21 years of age or older. A person can be charged with a DWI if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Additionally, a person can be charged with a DWI if their normal faculties are impaired due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs, even if their BAC is below 0.08%.
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence): DUI is primarily used to refer to cases involving individuals who are under the legal drinking age of 21. For these individuals, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
Both offenses can lead to serious legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even jail time.
How Long Does a Second DWI Offense Stay on Your Record?
If you are convicted, a second DWI offense in Texas leaves a permanent mark on your criminal record. You are also not eligible for Deferred Adjudication, so there are only three potential outcomes for your case: dismissal, conviction, or acquittal at trial.
It is also important to note that previous DWI convictions can be used to enhance the penalties for a new offense, regardless of how long ago they occurred. Even out-of-state convictions may be used as the basis for enhancement in Texas. If you successfully obtained Deferred Adjudication for your first offense, it is considered a conviction for enhancement purposes in this state.
What Are The Consequences of a Second DWI in Texas?
Many people contact us asking “What happens with your second DWI charge in Texas?” The answer is that a second DWI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor, which can lead to fines of up to $4,500 and a jail sentence ranging from 30 days to one year. Even if probation is granted, the law requires a minimum three-day jail sentence.
Other consequences include the following:
- Your driver’s license may be suspended for a period of 180 days to two years. You might be eligible for an occupational driver’s license that allows you to drive for work, school, or essential activities during the suspension.
- You may face significantly higher insurance premiums or even policy cancellation.
- After a second DWI conviction, you may be required to install an IID in your vehicle. This device requires a breath sample before starting your vehicle and periodically while driving. If any alcohol is detected, the vehicle won’t start.
- The court can mandate community service hours to be completed as part of your sentence.
- You may be placed on probation, which could involve regular check-ins with a probation officer, attending alcohol education programs, and complying with other court-ordered requirements. In the case of a second DWI, the maximum probation period is 24 months, and DWI offenders sentenced to probation in Texas are not eligible for early termination.
There are several scenarios in which a second DWI conviction could result in a significantly heightened charge penalty.
- You can be charged with a second-degree felony if the state can prove that you were under the influence when you caused an accident that injured a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel.
- The offense escalates to a first-degree felony if it can be proven that you caused “serious bodily injury to a peace officer or judge” while they were on duty,
- In the event that a second DWI offense involves the death of another person, it can be charged as a first-degree felony.
- If you caused serious bodily injury to another person in the form of a traumatic brain injury resulting in a persistent vegetative state, the offense is a second-degree felony.
What Are Some Defenses to a Second DWI?
While you can expect the prosecution to take a harsh stance on a second DWI charge, there are accepted defenses that can help you avoid a conviction and mandatory jail sentence. They include but may not be limited to:
- Procedural Errors: Your attorney might examine whether law enforcement followed proper procedures during your arrest and the subsequent investigation. If there were any violations of your rights or mistakes made during the process, it could potentially lead to evidence being suppressed or your case being dismissed.
- Lack of Probable Cause: Law enforcement must have a valid reason (probable cause) to pull you over or stop you in the first place. If they lacked proper justification, any evidence obtained from the stop might be deemed inadmissible.
- Inaccurate Field Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are not always accurate indicators of intoxication, as they can be influenced by various factors like medical conditions, nervousness, or physical limitations. Your attorney may challenge the reliability of these tests.
- Faulty Breathalyzer or Blood Test Results: Breathalyzers or blood tests are commonly used to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, these tests can sometimes be inaccurate due to calibration issues, improper administration, or other factors. Your attorney could challenge the validity of these test results.
A Texas DWI attorney can assess the details of your case and determine the best defense strategy depending on the circumstances.
How Can a San Antonio DWI Defense Lawyer Help Your Case?
DWI laws in Texas are both complicated and subject to change. A skilled criminal defense lawyer in San Antonio will be familiar with the current laws and use this knowledge to build a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific case.
When you hire Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC, we will carefully examine the circumstances of your arrest and the procedures followed by law enforcement. This includes a close review of the evidence collected by the prosecution, such as:
- Breathalyzer or blood test results
- Field sobriety test performance
- Dashcam footage
- Witness statements
Based on their evaluation, your attorney will develop a defense strategy that best suits your situation. This strategy may involve challenging the accuracy of tests, questioning the legality of the arrest, or exploring other defenses mentioned earlier. When advisable, they can negotiate with the prosecution to potentially reduce the charges or penalties you face.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will thoroughly prepare you for court proceedings. They’ll help you understand the process and coach you on how to present yourself in court. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney might also enlist the help of expert witnesses who can testify about the accuracy of tests, the effects of medical conditions or medications, or other relevant matters.
Questions? Speak to a Texas DWI Defense Lawyer Today
With drunk driving accidents killing and injuring people across Texas every year, the legal system is tough on repeat offenders. If you’ve been convicted of DWI in the past and recently been arrested again, your priority should be securing legal representation to help you face these new charges.
At Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC, we recognize the gravity of your situation and will fight to get your DWI reduced or dismissed whenever possible. If your case goes to trial, we are fully prepared to protect your rights in and out of the courtroom. To learn more, call (210) 202-1076 or use our contact form to schedule an initial consultation today.