2nd DWI in Texas: What You Need To Know

Wondering what happens when you get a 2nd DWI in Texas? As we’ve discussed, the details of a particular case, as well as the judges propensity for sentencing are going to weigh heavily on the sentencing. However even those unique circumstance can be factored in when trying to understand the penalties. We’ll detail what penalties the law mandates, what to expect and the circumstances that might result in increased penalties.

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The official state resource on this matter is Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code, titled “Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverage Offenses.” Within that chapter, Section 49.04 deals with penalties that one faces if charged and convicted with a Driving While Intoxicated offense.

Difference Between A DWI and DUI?

Every state uses these two acronyms differently (some use them interchangeably and others use them for something relevant to the law). Texas takes the second path and uses DUI to refer to people who receive citations for drinking and driving and are under the legal age to drink. Therefore when you hear “DUI” in the context of Texas law, it’s most likely that they are referring to juvenile law in the state (or are confused).

Is a Second DWI Offense A Felony? 

A Second DWI is not a felony in the state of Texas unless extenuating circumstances exist. Officially the second conviction of a DWI is a Class A misdemeanor that comes with a minimum term of confinement of 30 days. If the State is able to prove “that the person has previously been convicted one time of an offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.” While this applies to any motor vehicle (boats and airplanes are all encompassed under that umbrella), it only applies to previous convictions which is something you should know if you’ve been convicted of such. 

What is the Penalty for a 2nd DWI Offense?

A 2nd DWI in Texas is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor, the most severe misdemeanor category that doesn’t escalate to the level of a felony. This charge carries potential penalties including a fine of up to $4,000, up to one year of jail time, or a combination of both. It’s important to note that these costs are in addition to the time lost, legal fees, and potential income loss due to driving restrictions.

While these penalties apply broadly to Class A Misdemeanors, it’s critical to consider the specific driving-related consequences of a 2nd DWI. Not every Class A Misdemeanor results in a license suspension, but a second DWI offense may lead to a suspension of up to five years. The severity of the penalty can be influenced by various factors, with the timing of the first offense often factored into the judge’s sentencing decision. Hence, it’s not just about the general misdemeanor class, but also the specifics tied to the second DWI charge that will shape the final outcome.

Finally, it’s important to note that a second offense is a more severe violation in the state of Texas. For that reason, you’ll want to make sure to read our guide for finding the Best DWI Lawyer.

An interlock device is installed into the car. Notice the digital display of the breathalyzer reading.

Extenuating Circumstances

The state identifies several potential circumstances in which a second DWI conviction may result in a more severe penalty than that prescribed by the state legal code. Some of the most common and relevant factors that can cause the penalty to be much more severe than a Class A Misdemeanor:

  • It is a felony in the second degree if the state can prove that there was a victim, caused by the accussed driving intoxicated, and that accident caused serious bodily injury to a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty.
  • It is a first degree felony if the state is able to prove that the accused caused “serious bodily injury to a peace officer or judge” while on duty.
  • A 2nd DWI offense can be a felony in the first degree if the accused caused the death of another.
  • An offense under Section 49.07 is a felony of the second degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused serious bodily injury to another in the nature of a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state.

Lawyer For 2nd DWI In Texas

With all of that said, the question you may be asking is whether you need to hire a lawyer for a 2nd DWI in Texas. It should be noted that we have not received any money from any attorney to say this, nor have we agreed to promote an attorney, however if you have indeed been arrested a second time for a DWI in Texas you really need to hire an attorney. While the state law claims there are minimums for this sentence, minimums aren’t what they sound.

The reality is that very few people actually serve the minimum as the judge accepts to charge the accused with a lesser charge.