With the Lone Star State having some of the strictest drinking and driving laws in the country, being charged with a DWI 2nd is no joking matter and can result in a variety of life changing consequences. Given that approximately 10% of Texans have been involved in a DWI crash and one in three DWI cases is a repeat offense it is evident that many residents don’t realize the severity of enhanced penalties that come with a DWI 2nd conviction. While it is highly possible for an individual to recover their reputation and finances after a first DWI conviction, the laws surrounding a DWI 2nd in Texas impose several barriers that can be harmful to your future plans and goals. While a DWI 2nd should be avoided at all costs, here are the various laws and penalties that you should be aware of if you’re facing charges.
DWI 2nd Laws:
In Texas, any previous DWI conviction, regardless of how long ago it occurred can be used against you for a DWI 2nd charge. This means that even those who went through their entire deferred adjudication program or were convicted of a DWI thirty years ago are still eligible for a DWI 2nd charge if caught drinking and driving again.
While still classified as a misdemeanor like a first time DWI, a DWI 2nd, as a class A misdemeanor is among the harshest non-felony charges you can face in Texas. Aside from the swath of administrative and probationary penalties associated with a DWI 2nd, a Class A misdemeanor will result in a jail sentence of anywhere from three days to a year, and court imposed fines of up to $4,000. These charges are double that of a first time DWI offense.
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Enhanced Legal Penalties:
As with all DWI charges in the state, those charged with a DWI 2nd in Texas will have their driver’s license administratively revoked. Fifteen days after your arrest, the Texas ALR program automatically revokes your license, which for a DWI 2nd will last an entire year, during which driving any vehicle is considered a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine.
A DWI 2nd will also impact your insurance rates and can raise your premiums by over 90%. In cases where a DWI resulted in a car crash, the court may also order you to have a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate or SR-22. An SR-22 ensures the state that you are paying the minimum liability insurance required by law and can cost upwards of $1,000 per year depending on the agency. An SR-22 will usually last two years with a failure to maintain insurance resulting in a driver’s license suspension and possible criminal penalties.
With a judge likely viewing a DWI 2nd as a careless offense, the court is likely to impose probation on top of the usual jail sentence and fines. Probation for a DWI 2nd can last as long as two years with requirements even stricter than the first time. Those facing two years of probation can expect to pay for and install an ignition interlock device, attend up to 200 hours of community service, and multiple alcohol education courses and victim impact panels, and be subject to intense supervision such as work requirements, random drug screenings, and home searches. Regardless of potential good behavior or legal expertise, you will be serving your entire probationary period, as Texas law forbids early probation release for drunk driving offenses.
On top of the typically enhanced penalties of a DWI 2nd conviction, certain offenses will come with harsher sentences. This most commonly occurs when a DWI involves a child passenger, elevating the charges from a Class A Misdemeanor to a State Jail Felony. Also instituted for a DWI 2nd when a previous conviction came from out of state, a State Jail Felony carries 180 days to two years in state prison, a fine up to $10,000, and the additional consequences of a felony conviction.
DWI 2nd Lawyer:
If you’ve been charged with a DWI 2nd in Texas, the help of a specialized DWI lawyer can be crucial. For expert DWI representation, don’t hesitate to check The National College for DUI Defense’s lawyer directory.