Many people arrested each year for drunk driving are repeat offenders. In studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one third of all drivers arrested or convicted of DWI each year are repeat offenders. Drunk drivers with prior DWI convictions are also 4.1 times more likely than any other type of driver to be involved in a fatal crash in a subsequent DWI arrest and more car crashes in general.
Texas Treatment of Repeat DWI Offenders
In Texas, the first two DWI convictions are classified as misdemeanors. Felony DWI charges begin to attach to the third DWI and above arrest or any DWI arrest that causes serious bodily injury or death to the other driver and passengers of either car. Many jurisdictions begin felony charges for DWI after the first DWI conviction. Texas however, convicts people of drunk driving, but many drunk drivers, particularly repeat offenders, avoid jail time even though the statute calls for a jail term of two to 10 years for felony DWI convictions of three or more DWI convictions in a mechanism called deferred adjudication.
A defendant arrested for DWI in Texas is able to avoid a DWI conviction on his or her criminal record, if the defendant successfully completes probation. To be eligible for deferred adjudication the final charge must be something other than DWI. Most of the time the lesser charge criminal defendants plead to is obstruction of a passageway. Offered to first-time offenders, deferred adjudication keeps the arrested drunk driver under the watchful eye of probation and for the first-time drunk driver, a resolution other than a criminal record for the DWI arrest.
In Harris County, for example, first-time DWI offenders can have their cases dismissed if they are treated for substance abuse, lose driving privileges for a certain period of time, and install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
The problem lies with the number of people who are arrested for DWI again and again. In 1983, the Texas legislature passed legislation that removed deferred adjudication for repeat drunk drivers. There was a concern that people with prior DWIs would continue to drive drunk and get rearrested for drunk driving.
In early June, a man in Houston was sentenced to life in prison following his ninth DWI conviction. Because he was classified as a habitual drunkard, the Houston man could have been sentenced anywhere from 25 years to life after he pleaded guilty. The Houston man’s prior convictions involved multiple car crashes, including crashing into a family of three. The man had been in prison twice, having been sentenced to two years and 13 years for other offenses. Despite his prior convictions, he continued to drive drunk.
Hire a DWI Defense Firm
If you or someone you know has been charged with DWI in the Plano or Denton areas of Texas contact the the Law Office of Kimberly Griffin Tucker, P.C. Our team of experienced lawyers and legal professionals will provide information, analyze your case, and recommend a prompt solution to your DWI matter, including trial, if necessary.