2nd DUI in Texas? Laws, Penalties, and How to Fight It
A 2nd offense DWI in Texas carries weighty penalties that can permanently alter your career, family, and lifestyle options.
But one in three DWI cases is a repeat offense. So, on estimates, the Lone Star State has about 21,000 second-time DWI arrests out of 64,700 DUI detentions a year.
A repeat DUI conviction has grim aftermath. So, you might wonder if an offender has any chance at case dismissal or penalty reduction.
Read on to discover a 15-day quick-win you can score after an arrest, why breathalyzer results don’t matter much, and how to get your punishment reduced or the case dismissed.
What is a Second-time DWI?
A second DUI arrest under Texas state law attracts the DWI 2nd charge. Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI) means the same thing.
A 2nd offense DWI in Texas is an inexpungible Class A Misdemeanor.
The state’s misdemeanor law states that DWI repeat offenders could face up to 12 months of jail time with a maximum $4,000 fine. In addition, convicts must serve a 3-day jail term even if the court grants them probation.
Penalties for a Second Time DUI in Texas
In Texas, a second-time DWI charge would cost the accused time and money.
But those penalties have a far-reaching effect beyond the immediate offense. Misdemeanor charges may engender career, lifestyle, social, economic, and political complications.
According to law, persons convicted of a 2nd offense DWI in Texas might get incarceration, a fine, or both sentences.
Specifically, these criminal penalties include:
- A 12-month maximum jail sentence
- A $4,000 maximum fine, or
- Both the fine and the jail sentence
Besides, a DWI 2nd charge comes with administrative penalties. And it invites complications beyond the offense itself.
A 2nd offense DWI offender might face license suspension and driving restrictions.
To be on bond, you must install and blow into an ignition interlock device (IID) or any other deep lung device every time you operate your vehicle. And this device must be present in all vehicles you drive.
An IID analyzes your breath for alcohol content. And if it detects a 0.8 level or higher, it disables your vehicle temporarily.
Also, persons convicted of a second DUI charge might have their licenses revoked for up to two years. Commercial driver’s license holders transporting hazardous materials may get a three-year suspension.
A lucky offender might get a 180-day license suspension, but that’s still half a year without their driver’s license.
Also, the courts may require that the offender attend a compulsory alcohol education course.
Some of the penalties for a 2nd offense DWI in Texas are the same as the first DUI but may attract the maximum sentences for the offense. So, if an offender completed a six-month license suspension in their first offense, the courts might give them a full two-year driver’s license ban on that second DWI conviction.
Persons convicted of a 2nd offense DWI in Texas are ineligible for a criminal record expunction—this offense is on permanent record.
But, if it’s your first DUI offense, you can apply to the Texas DWI deferred adjudication program. The program can help you avoid criminal penalties. However, 2nd DWI offenders can’t access this privilege.
Moreover, first-time offenders must wait at least two years to qualify for expungement. Even that is enough time to devastate your career prospects and lifestyle options.
A criminal charge can attract some adverse side effects, even if you’re acquitted. For example, It can lower your job prospects and earning potential. It can even raise your insurance cost.
Besides employment and insurance complications, persons convicted of a misdemeanor may
- Have a hard time securing child custody
- Face challenges adopting children
- Lose rights to firearm
- Face immigration challenges (for foreigners)
- Encounter aggravated penalties in future offenses
- Struggle to secure a lease or rent a property
For example, a person convicted of a 2nd offense DWI in Texas might be violating the Texas Controlled Substances Act, which restricts offenders from adopting a child within ten years.
Also, a DUI car insurance costs 93% higher. According to a Nerdwallet report, the cheapest DUI insurance in Texas costs $1,770.
Is Jail Time Mandatory for a Second DUI Conviction?
Yes, jail time is mandatory if you’re convicted of a 2nd offense DWI in Texas. Even offenders who qualify for probation must complete a three-day jail time.
However, short jail sentences with probation are ideal outcomes. And it may include secondary penalties.
The courts may give offenders a jail term of up to a year, fine the convict up to $4,000, or give both the fine and jail sentences.
Potential Elevated Charges for 2nd DUI
The punishments for a 2nd offense DWI in Texas are severe, considering it’s not a felony. However, a DWI with a child on board the vehicle can elevate an offender’s charges to a felony DWI.
Also, if an offender has a DWI conviction from another state, a 2nd offense DWI in Texas state law would fall under a third-degree felony classification.
State jail felony in Texas may carry a $10,000 penalty. In addition, a felony DWI convict must pay the other penalties associated with a second DUI offense, including a jail time of up to 12 months and a two-year driver’s license suspension.
In addition, felony DWI convicts may lose their right to vote, access healthcare jobs like nursing, possess a firearm, and rent an apartment.
What to Expect If Convicted
A person accused and convicted of a 2nd offense DWI in Texas can expect these consequences:
- A compulsory jail term of up to 12 months
- A fine of up to $4,000
- Driver’s license suspension for up to two years
- Possibility of a compulsory alcohol education course
- Mandatory use of ignition interlock device (IID) in all vehicles you operate
- A permanent, inexpungible criminal record
- A 93% increase in DUI car insurance
- Potential for aggravated sentences in future crimes
Plus, a DWI felon must pay an annual $1000 to $2,000 driver’s license surcharge for three years.
Besides, the courts may ask a DWI felon to abstain from alcohol and controlled substance use. The only exception is if they have a doctor’s prescription.
The courts may order an offender to take occasional drug tests. Also, it may ask an accused to abstain from operating a vehicle while the case is pending.
Fighting Your 2nd DUI
If this is your 2nd offense DWI in Texas, you can fight it. It doesn’t matter if the first DUI was from another state. You can even get your charges dismissed or significantly reduced.
Should You Fight Your DUI Charge
Yes, fight your DUI charge, even if it’s your 2nd offense DWI in Texas. You can start with the low-hanging fruit of fighting to keep your license.
Request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to avoid driver’s license suspension. You have 15 days after your second DUI charge to make the request.
A license revocation doesn’t take effect until 40 days after an arrest. So, an ALR allows you to contest the license revocation before it occurs.
If your driver’s license is confiscated during an arrest, you can get a new one through the Texas Department of Public Safety. However, if it’s suspended, you can get an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL) to operate vehicles for school, work, and other critical but non-commercial needs.
If your driver’s license is confiscated, you can get a new one through the Texas Department of Public Safety. However, if it’s suspended, you can get an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL) for vital but non-commercial needs.
Breathalyzer Tests Are Not Always Accurate
One study found that 23% of breathalyzer tests read higher blood alcohol content (BAC) than the actual BAC of the individuals tested. In addition, the report says that blood alcohol content readings can vary by as much as 15% from the actual content.
So, don’t lose faith even if you blew above the standard 0.08 breathalyzer reading. That reading isn’t foolproof evidence.
How to Get your DWI Dismissed or Reduced
Yes, you can get your DWI dismissed or reduced.
If your DWI charge is enhanced due to a previous conviction, you may get a reduction through a plea bargain. However, lowering a 2nd offense DWI in Texas to a first-time DUI offense is arduous.
Officers must prove that an accused showed intoxication signs before the arrest. Otherwise, the courts will invalidate the case. So, a judge would dismiss a case if the arresting officer lacks reasonable grounds.
But how do you prove that the officer has no valid grounds for the arrest, or how would you take advantage of a plea bargain?
Talk to Michael and Associates.
That’s what we specialize in doing for you.
We’ve won over 1,000 criminal defense cases with a 98% success rate. We rank in the top ten best DUI/DWI lawyers, according to the American Institute of DUI/DWI Attorneys. Also, our AVVO superb rating testifies to our positive case outcomes, client satisfaction, masterful litigation, and favorable peer endorsements.
Each case is unique, so contact us for a free case review.
Ben has worked on thousands of cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has gotten hundreds of charges dismissed and pled down several hundred more. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.