Second DWI: Class A Misdemeanor
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For a second DWI in Texas, which is a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties you face will be much tougher than that of a first DWI offense. Remember the ordeal you went through for your first DWI? You may think the same exact issues are ahead of you. However, that’s not necessarily the case. You have more at stake with a second DWI. First, the state of Texas divides misdemeanors into three classes: A, B, and C. Class A is the most harshly punished misdemeanor.
Multiple Convictions for DWI
The elements of a second DWI in Texas obviously include two DWI convictions of operating a motor vehicle. However, a prior conviction for flying an airplane while intoxicated, or assembling or operating an amusement ride while intoxicated, will also bump you up to a Class A misdemeanor.
You may think, “No problem there; I don’t own an airplane, and I don’t have a pilot’s license. I also don’t work for a carnival, so there is no danger of getting charged with assembling or operating an amusement ride.” However, the state of Texas also prohibits operating a watercraft while intoxicated. So this can count against you as a DWI as well. That means that the next time you go fishing, that six pack that you take with you on the lake could come back to haunt you. It could get you charged with a second DWI in Texas.
A Second DWI Is One Step Away from a Felony
A second DWI charge is serious. This is not only because of the penalties that come with it, but also because it could lead to a third DWI, which constitutes a felony. Consequently, you need to be careful and take a second DWI charge seriously. More is involved than the immediate fines, jail time, and loss of license. With a second DWI, the hard truth is that you are knocking on the door of a felony. Therefore, consult with an experienced DWI attorney in Tyler immediately. John J. Eastland, Attorney at Law, P.C. is here to answer any questions you may have. Call (903) 207-5525.
Penalties for a second DWI are tough. Jail time consists of a minimum of six days up to one year. The fine cannot exceed $4,000 and does not include any probation fees, drug and alcohol classes, or the cost of an interlock device that the court orders you to install.
Your Driver’s License Can Be Suspended before You Go to Criminal Court
When charged with a second DWI, an administrative proceeding can suspend your driver’s license before your case goes to criminal court. This is separate from the criminal proceeding.
During your arrest, law enforcement will take possession of your driver’s license. They will then issue a permit allowing you to drive for 40 days. After receiving the temporary permit to drive, you have 15 days to give notice that you want a hearing before the administrative court or your license will automatically be suspended. If you receive a charge of a second DWI, an administrative law judge can suspend your license for up to two years. Again, this is a civil proceeding. It typically occurs before the criminal court has acted.
Commercial drivers face stiffer penalties. For a first offense in an administrative hearing, the Texas Department of Public Safety can suspend a commercial driver’s license if the driver’s BAC level is 0.04 while driving a commercial vehicle. Although the administrative law judge cannot set a jail sentence or impose a fine other than the cost of restoring your driver’s license, he or she can suspend your driver’s license. The suspension has the full force of law, just as if a criminal court judge imposed the penalty.
An Attorney Can Advise & Represent You at an Administrative Hearing
When charged with a second DWI, the fight to save your license starts immediately. If you do not give proper and timely notice that you want a hearing before the administrative law judge, they will suspend your license. An experienced DWI attorney can review your case and advise you on the benefits of requesting a hearing before an administrative judge, as well as represent you at the administrative hearing.
Consequences of the Implied Consent Law
If you have a prior DWI and the Texas police stops you on suspicion for a second DWI, there may not be many options available to you. When arrested, they will ask you to submit to a chemical analysis to determine your blood alcohol content. Texas is an implied consent state. This means that if you do not submit to the test, the judge will automatically suspend your license for one year if you have no prior refusals or convictions. However, since in this case you do have a prior conviction, the judge can suspend your license for two years if you refuse the test or have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.
The state can use blood alcohol chemical analysis against you at a criminal DWI trial.
As previously mentioned, the penalties at a criminal trial for a second DWI include:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to a $4,000 fine
- The suspension of your driver’s license
After the restoration of driving privileges, you will have to install an interlock device on your car if you have a prior conviction within the past five years.
You Have the Right to a Fair Trial & Protection of Constitutional Rights
Regardless of your prior record, you still have the right to the presumption of innocence at a trial for a second DWI. That means the state has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced and skilled DWI attorney will examine the record and determine the strength of the state’s evidence. If law enforcement did not perform chemical analysis, the state will be missing a key piece of evidence. Moreover, even if they did perform the analysis, your attorney will examine the record. They will do this to make sure the authorities followed the proper protocol in conducting the test.
Again, regardless of your record, you have the right to the protection of your constitutional rights and due process of law. For example, the police must have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a traffic stop. Just because the local police officer knows you had a previous DWI, it does not mean there is a basis to stop you on a Saturday night. If the officer did not have a legitimate reason to stop you, the court can dismiss your case.
If You Are Facing a Second DWI in Texas, You Need an Experienced Attorney
An experienced DWI attorney can:
- Assist you with an administrative hearing
- Assess the evidence in your case
- Help to determine if you need to seek a plea bargain or go to trial
At trial, an aggressive, experienced DWI attorney will fight to ensure your legal rights are protected. Much is at stake if you have a prior conviction for a DWI. If you have been charged with a second DWI in Texas, contact the Tyler DWI attorney at John J. Eastland Attorney at Law, P.C. today at (903) 207-5525.
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