Texas man receives prison sentence for repeat DWI offense

A man who had gotten away with probation after racking up four misdemeanor DWI convictions in Washington State found that his luck ran out in Texas when he was arrested in early 2012 with a blood alcohol content of 0.28 - more than three times the legal limit.

Texas authorities charged the man with third-degree felony driving while intoxicated, his fifth DWI charge since 2001, ABC News reported. Explaining that alcohol addiction was the reason for his repeated DWI arrests, the man requested probation and placement in a substance abuse program.

Instead of probation and treatment, however, the man was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $2,000. He also received a one-year suspension of his driver's license. As quoted by ABC News, the prosecutor explained the man's prison sentence by saying "this is Texas, not Washington."

Texas DWI laws

Texas law provides that a driver is considered intoxicated and may be charged with DWI if either of the following is true:

  • The driver is legally intoxicated, meaning that he or she has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or above
  • The driver's mental or physical faculties are impaired by alcohol or other drugs, regardless of BAC

As illustrated in the story above, the penalties for DWI conviction in Texas can be harsh, particularly for repeat offenses.

A driver convicted of a first-time DWI offense in Texas may face penalties including:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Driver's license suspension for up to one year
  • Annual fee of up to $2,000 for three years after reinstatement of driver's license

With repeated convictions, the penalties for DWI in Texas become increasingly severe. For instance, a third-offense DWI conviction can result in penalties including:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine
  • Driver's license suspension for up to two years
  • Annual fee of up to $2,000 for three years after reinstatement of driver's license

Additional penalties for DWI in Texas

Stricter penalties may apply to DWI offenses involving additional factors such as the injury or death of another person, or the presence of a child passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense. For example, people convicted of DWI while carrying a passenger under the age of 15 may be imprisoned for up to two years and fined up to $10,000 in addition to any other penalties they receive.

In addition, Texas drivers convicted of two or more DWI offenses within five years are required to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicles they own or operate after their driving privileges are reinstated. An ignition interlock device is a breath alcohol testing device that attaches to a vehicle's ignition system and prevents it from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Legal help for Texas DWI charges

If you or someone close to you has been charged with DWI in Texas, it is important to get help from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. A lawyer with experience in Texas DWI cases can help you understand your rights and will work hard to obtain the best possible resolution to the charges against you.