A Bryan, Texas man received a 15-year prison sentence on February 26, 2020, after his conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI). This is the 17th DWI arrest and conviction for Robert Ray, age 72.
The DWI arrest occurred after Ray was involved in a vehicle accident in September of 2017. The accident occurred on Texas Avenue in Bryan and allegedly involved Ray pulling out in front of another vehicle. When police arrived at the scene, Ray admitted early on that he was inebriated. The police placed Ray into custody, and the results of his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading was above the legal limit.
At his sentencing, the prosecution asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years. The court settled on 15, citing his extensive history of driving under the influence of alcohol. Ray must serve at least 7 ½ years before he could be eligible for parole. Even then, parole is never guaranteed, especially in habitual drunk driving cases.
Ray's history of DWI arrests began in 1967. In the following years, Ray faced substantial consequences with additional convictions. These convictions have resulted in stints in county jail and work release in many cases.
This is not Ray's first prison sentence due to a DWI conviction. He faced a five-year sentence for a DWI conviction in 1988, and a second five-year stint after a 1992 conviction. The 1992 conviction was Ray's final arrest for DWI until the 2017 crash occurred.
In some jurisdictions, the amount of time between convictions can impact the potential sentence in a DWI case. These states have what is known as a “lookback period.” If a prior conviction does not fall within the lookback period, it is not used to enhance a DWI charge. In many states, this period is ten years. However, there is no lookback period in Texas law. This means that every conviction throughout Ray's life was used by prosecutors when determining the severity of his charge.
Potential Sentences for a 17th DWI Conviction
In Texas, every DWI offense with two or more prior convictions is treated as a felony charge. For that reason, the potential maximum sentence for a third offense DWI could be the same as a 17th offense. That is not always the case, however.
For a third or subsequent DWI, a conviction carries a sentence of no less than two and no more than ten years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Additionally, a conviction also carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a lengthy suspension of your driving privileges.
There is one important exception to remember for felony DWI cases. If a person is convicted of a third or subsequent DWI and has a prior felony DWI conviction on their record, the maximum sentence is increased to 20 years in prison. This was true in Ray's case, given his two prior felony DWI convictions.
The prospect of a steep prison sentence is scary, but it is important to remember that DWI cases are defensible with the guidance of a Houston Board Certified DWI defense lawyer. Fighting DWI charges, especially felony DWI charges, is also important so that prior DWI offenses don't add up to what could in effect be a large part of your life behind bars.