While many know that a third DWI in Texas becomes a felony allegation, few people know that, in most cases, the State can use prior DWIs for enhancement regardless of how far in the past they are. The State can use a number of other intoxication-related offenses to enhance you.
Take an individual who gets arrested and convicted for a DWI at age 22, and then receives a conviction for boating while intoxicated in Florida at 47. Now, imagine that at age 67 that same person is arrested in Texas for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The State will use the two prior intoxication-related convictions, even though they are decades old and one was from another state, to charge the individual with DWI Felony Repetition, which is sometimes referred to as “DWI Fel Rep” or “DWI Third or More.”
A DWI Felony Repetition charge is a third-degree felony. It carries a punishment range of 2 to 10 years in prison. If a person has been to prison once before (on a DWI or any other charge), the punishment range is enhanced to 2 to 20 years in prison. If the person has been to prison twice before, then they are looking at 5 to 99 years in prison. This is how a fifth DWI can lead to a life sentence.
You will understand, then, why we were so proud to have gone to trial on the allegation of a seventh DWI and knocked so many holes in the State’s case, the accused was given 90 days in-home and the felony charge against him – which would have easily put him away for the rest of his life – was dropped.
That is just one example of the many DWI cases we have handled. Including intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault cases, we have tried nearly 200 intoxication-related jury trials. Few other Forth Worth DWI Lawyers in the state have tried so many.
We have also successfully avoided prison terms on numerous occasions by getting our clients admitted into the Felony Alcohol Intervention Program or FAIP.
It’s important to point out that even a probated sentence for a DWI Felony Repetition requires time in jail. The minimum number of days a person must serve in jail for a felony DWI in Texas when the sentence is probated is 10 days in county jail. The maximum number of days a person can serve in county jail as a condition of felony probation is 180 days. It is not uncommon for judges to impose more than the minimum 10 days that is required.
If you receive probation for a felony DWI in Texas, you will have to complete the following conditions, and possibly more:
Early release from probation is prohibited for DWI offenses in Texas. However, in some cases, a judge may allow a person to go on non-reporting or pro forma status. If you have completed a majority of your probation term and are interested in early release from probation from a court in Dallas, Tarrant, Johnson, Denton, or Collin County call us.
The Statute of Limitations for a felony DWI is three years in Texas.
Pursuant to Section 708.102 of the Transportation Code, a surcharge of $1,000 a year will be applied to a person’s driver license for their first DWI in a 36-month period. The amount rises to $1,500 a year for a subsequent conviction within a 36-month period. The amount rises to $2,000 a year for three years if the blood alcohol concentration was a .15 or greater.
[Effective September 1, 2019, if Governor Abbot signs a bill passed both in the House and Senate, surcharges will go away and be replaced by additional fines. For more info visit our 2019 Legislative Update.]
If you are charged with a DWI Felony Repetition in Texas, you should expect the court will require you to have an interlock installed on any vehicle you operate while you are out on bond. You should also expect the judge to add a condition that says you shall not consume alcohol while you are on bond.
A fine of up to $10,000 will be imposed for a DWI Felony Repetition charge in Texas. This is true for jail sentences and probated sentences.
While the punishment range for a DWI Felony Repetition is very different from a first-time DWI, the burden of proof and elements other than the prior are the same as that of a first DWI. For more information on DWI investigations and prosecutions in Texas, don’t miss this article: DWIs in Texas.
The criminal court judge may suspend your driver license for up to two years if you receive a jail sentence on a DWI Felony Repetition charge in Texas.
Administratively, your license will be suspended for one-year if your driving record shows more than one DWI related contact during the last 10 years.
In some cases, we are able to find a weakness in the State’s case and can obtain a dismissal of charges against you. In other cases, we might have a legal issue that we can prevail on which could also lead to a dismissal of the charges. While these outcomes are rare, it takes an experienced eye to spot these issues and prevail on the issues. As you’ve no doubt realized reading this article, if the State persists in its desire to convict you of a DWI Felony Repetition, the consequences are much worse than if they prosecute you for a misdemeanor DWI. Therefore, we vigorously defend not only the elements of the DWI but also the use of the underlying convictions.
If you have been arrested for a felony-level driving while intoxicated offense, call a Fort Worth third offense DWI lawyer for help.