Drunk driving statistics in Texas are harrowing. For example, across the state of Texas, someone is hurt or killed in a car crash caused by a drunk driver at a rate of every 20 minutes.
Laws are in place to try to discourage driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and to punish those who do. Related charges are typically referred to as DUIs (driving under the influence) or DWIs (driving while intoxicated).
The consequences of a DUI become harsher if you wrack up more than one. What happens when you receive a third offense DUI? What should you do and what can you expect?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about a third offense DUI and what will happen from here.
What Counts As a Third Offense DUI In Texas?
A third offense DUI in Texas is the charge you will receive if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated and it is the third DUI on your record.
Receiving a third offense DUI in Texas is actually easier to do than it is in other states because of something called the look-back period. Other states have a set look-back period, which means that after a certain amount of time without another offense, previous DUIs will be removed from a driver’s record. Texas does not have a look-back period for DUIs, which means that any prior DUI (or BUI, which is boating under the influence) will add up toward a third offense.
That being said, there are applicable look-back periods in regard to the severity of a driver’s punishment for a third offense DUI.
What Counts as Intoxicated?
In the state of Texas, there are two defined states that count as intoxicated.
A driver is considered intoxicated if the normal control of their mental or physical abilities is impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs. This can include prescription medications.
A driver is considered intoxicated regardless of physical or mental control if they have a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or higher.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Charged With Your Third DUI or DWI?
If you receive a third offense DUI, the first thing you want to do is make sure that you are following your arresting officer’s orders. What many people don’t realize is that all drivers in Texas are driving under implied consent. That means that if you refuse to take a chemical test when pulled over, you can face additional penalties in court.
As soon as you are able, hire a professional DUI and DWI attorney. The maximum punishments for a third offense DUI in Texas are severe and can be considered a felony. Presenting a case that will lighten some of those punishments is not easy to do without an attorney.
What to Expect After Getting a Third Offense DUI in Texas
By the time you reach your third offense DUI, there are some consequences that you’re bound to expect. At this point, you may have dealt with fines, jail time, and driving restrictions as a result of previous DUIs.
It’s important to understand that the maximum penalties for a third offense DUI are harsher than a first or second offense DUI. In some cases, you may be hit with a felony charge, which may eliminate your right to vote and possess a firearm.
Third offense DUI cases are extremely nuanced and the consequences are highly varied. Requesting a consultation with an attorney is the best way to get a more precise understanding of what to expect from your particular case. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the more common penalties drivers face after receiving their third offense DUI.
Fees and Fines
The maximum fine for a third offense DUI is $10,000. However, other related fees and fines can add to this lump sum, meaning that you could end up owing the state of Texas well over $10,000 for a third offense DUI.
One fee that can cause serious financial troubles is the one that may be imposed by the DMV in order to retain your driver’s license. You can be hit with a surcharge fee of up to $2,000 each year for up to three years in order to maintain your license.
Third offense drivers can be charged with two to ten years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Although two years is the stated minimum, not every third offense driver will be required to serve that amount of time.
A good attorney can help you fight for increased community service in exchange for jail time. You may also be entitled to probation for good behavior. However, whether or not you can shorten your sentence will depend on how long ago you received your last DUI, amongst other legal considerations.
Driver’s License Suspension and Other Driving Restrictions
Some third offense drivers have their license suspended for 180 days to 2 years. Whether or not they can qualify for an occupational license (allowing you to drive to work, school, or other essential locations) during that time will depend on previous offenses.
Many third offense drivers are required to install an ignition interlock device on their car after being released from jail. This is a device that checks your breath for alcohol before allowing you to operate the vehicle normally. This is one of several possible driving offenses you may face after receiving your third offense DUI.
Get the Legal Help You Need
A third offense DUI is no small matter in the state of Texas. If you aren’t able to fight it, you will likely end up with a felony on your record, which can greatly impact your future opportunities.
Make sure that you’re in the right hands by working with Hamilton & Grant. Contact us today to get started with a case consultation.