If you have been arrested in Houston, Texas for a third charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI), you are facing felony charges that carry the potential of a sentence in state prison. It's understandable if the potential for prison time dominates your thoughts. But you should know that the potential consequences for a third DWI conviction extend beyond incarceration. The conviction can greatly affect other areas of your life, including your wallet. That's in part due to the hefty potential fines that come with a conviction for DWI 3rd offense.
The good news is that you will only be responsible for these fines and other costs if you are convicted of DWI. That may seem like a foregone conclusion, but the fact is that you can defend yourself in a Houston DWI case. In many cases, a successful defense will result in an acquittal of all charges. There is no guarantee that you will win your case, however. There are two factors that greatly affect your chances:
- The facts surrounding your arrest, and
- Your choice of a Houston DWI attorney
While you can't change the facts of your case, you have total control over the attorney you hire. That makes selecting your Houston DWI defense attorney your top priority.
Attorney Doug Murphy is recognized as the best DWI lawyer in Houston. He is a Board Certified expert in both DWI defense law and criminal defense law. In fact, he is one of only two attorneys in the entire State of Texas that holds both credentials. To discuss your case with the top DWI attorney in Houston, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today.
DWI Laws in Texas
If you have previously been convicted of two DWIs at the time of your most recent arrest, you will be charged with DWI 3rd offense. It makes no difference if your prior DWI convictions occurred in a different state or are decades old. To convict you, the prosecutor in your case must prove either of the following:
- That you lacked the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more substances, or any other substance in the body; or
- That you had a breath or blood alcohol concentration that exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent.
That means that you can be convicted of a DWI even when your blood or breath alcohol concentration is below the legal limit. That also means you can be convicted even if you refuse to give a blood or breath sample at all. The prosecutor needs only to prove one prong or the other to convict you.
The Fine for a Third Offense DWI in Texas
If you convicted of your third DWI under Texas law, the maximum fine you will face is determined by state statute. A third offense DWI carries a maximum fine of $10,000. This is double the fine for a second offense and five times the fine for first-time offenders.
The good news is that the judge is under no obligation to impose the maximum fine. In fact, the judge can choose to simply sentence you to jail without any fine at all. But in the end, the fine is up to the judge so long as it falls within the range allowed by statute.
Other Potential Costs of a DWI Conviction
If a potential $10,000 fine wasn't bad enough, there are several other costs associated with a third DWI conviction in Texas. Some of those other economic costs include:
Court Costs and Restitution
In addition to your potential fines, the judge may also require that you pay for your own court costs. These are the expenses a court incurs in prosecuting the case against you. You may also be on the hook for any property damages or bodily injury you caused to another person while driving under the influence. The court may require you to repay the party you harmed through a process known as restitution. Making the person who you damaged financially whole may be part of your sentencing.
Administrative Fees and Costs
One cost for a third offense DWI that might surprise you are administrative fees and costs. These include the costs related to obtaining your driver's license after your suspension comes to an end. To get a new license, you will be required to pay what is known as a license surcharge fee. The surcharge fee is $2,000 per year, for the first three years you have your license back.
Another potential cost is the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device. An interlock device is a mechanism that can be installed in your vehicle. You must blow into the device before you start your car, and if it registers any alcohol the vehicle will not start. If a court requires you to install an interlock device, you will be on the hook for paying for it.
Increased Insurance Rates
Unfortunately, if you are convicted of a third DWI you can expect an increase in your car insurance deductibles. If you aren't already, your insurance company will label you as a high-risk driver, which carries higher deductibles and the risk of having your policy canceled completely.
Impound and Towing Costs
At the time of your arrest, the police must also make arrangements for your vehicle. Leaving it on the side of the road can be a safety issue, so your car will be towed and impounded until you are released from jail. To get your vehicle back, you will have to pay for the costs of the towing and impound. Towing can cost up to $500 and impound fees are typically $20 per day.
Last but not least, you will have to pay your attorney. Each attorney bills differently, but to defend a Houston DWI case you can expect a bill that is at least several thousand dollars.
Investing in the Best Houston DWI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for DWI in Houston, it may be more costly not to fight the charges against you. To invest your money in the best DWI defense possible, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for your free consultation.