On October 29th, a Houston-area man was arrested under suspicion of DWI. In some cases, a conviction for driving while intoxicated will result in little more than a night sobering up behind bars. For this driver, his four prior convictions could be enough to send him to prison for the rest of his life.
The arrest occurred on the 2200 block of FM 1960 in Harris County. At approximately 4:30 p.m., sheriff deputies responded to the scene of a single-vehicle accident. At the scene, officers encountered the driver, 45-year-old Houston resident John Greco. According to the police report, deputies were immediately suspicious that Greco was intoxicated. The police administered field sobriety tests. During the arrest, Greco allegedly became combative. This led officers to place Greco in a spit mask during his booking photos.
According to Greco's court records, he has previous convictions for DWI in 1996, 1998, 2007, and 2010. While a third or subsequent DWI conviction is always treated as a felony, the potential consequences facing Mr. Greco are even more severe thanks to Texas' “three strikes” law.
Penalties for a Third or Subsequent DWI
As a felony, the penalties for a fifth DWI offense under Texas law are steep. Instead of county jail, any time behind bars will be spent in a state prison. And prison time is a sure thing for a fifth conviction, as it carries a minimum of two years behind bars. The maximum jail sentence for a felony DWI is 10 years in prison. The length of the prison sentence will ultimately be decided by the judge following a conviction at trial. A third DWI also carries steep fines and community service requirements.
Texas Three Strikes Laws for DWI
While a ten-year prison sentence might sound like a lot, the penalties Mr. Greco faces are significantly higher than that. This is due to Texas' three strikes law. The three-strikes law was designed to punish habitual offenders. While the theoretical purpose of prison is to rehabilitate offenders, the state legislature adopted the three-strikes rule as a mechanism to lock up those who continue to offend. It is also referred to as the habitual felon rule. A habitual felony DWI charge faces minimum prison time of 25 years up to 99 years.
The three-strikes law applies to anyone that is convicted of their third felony. Under this law, the potential penalties for that conviction are much higher than normal. For a so-called third strike, a person if convicted could face no less than 25 years top to life in prison. Felony DWI convictions apply under this law, meaning a fifth DWI could result in a life sentence. If a person has two prior felony convictions and causes the death of another person while committing another DWI, they could be charged with felony murder.
Contact a Houston DWI Defense Lawyer
While a DWI conviction always has real consequences, a third felony conviction could cost you your freedom for the rest of your life. Regardless of the circumstances of the arrest, you should contact experienced legal counsel immediately if you are charged with DWI in Houston. To discuss your case with a Board Certified expert in DWI law, reach out to the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible.