What is the Punishment for a 3rd DWI in Texas?

Under any circumstance, a conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge in Texas is a serious matter. Even a first-time offender is at risk of jail, fines, and the suspension of driving privileges. But those consequences become far more severe when you are convicted of DWI for the third time. Hiring the right Houston DWI lawyer could be the difference between going to prison and freedom.

A third DWI is consequential because it is a felony under Texas law. A felony conviction can lead to serious time spent in a Texas prison, and other collateral consequences can follow you for the rest of your life.

The good news is that it's possible to prevail in a third offense DWI case. Houston DWI attorney Doug Murphy has had years of successful results defending his clients at trial in Harris County and other surrounding county courtrooms. To discuss your case with Houston's premier DWI lawyer, contact Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C.

What Constitutes a DWI Third Offense in Texas?

There is no ambiguity regarding what a third offense for DWI is under Texas law. Some states have what is known as a “look back” period where a DWI will only count as a prior conviction if it happened recently. In Texas, there is no look back period. That means that if you were convicted of two DWIs thirty years ago, your next DWI conviction will be a felony despite the long period of time between convictions.

Punishment for a Third Texas DWI

The penalties for a third offense DWI are of the same nature as misdemeanor convictions, but they are far more severe. As a felony charge, you will be at risk for prison time rather than a stint in county jail. Other penalties are also harsher than if you had been convicted of a misdemeanor.

Jail Time

A third DWI is considered to be a third-degree felony under Texas law. While first-time offenders are often treated with leniency and a level of understanding, the penalties for a third offense reflect how seriously Texas lawmakers take repeat DWI offenses.

A conviction for a third DWI will result in a prison sentence of no less than two years and no more than ten years. The minimum of two years can be misleading, as it is possible for the court to probate the majority of that sentence. That means that so long as you comply with a program of supervised release and stay out of trouble, you will be able to avoid serving most of that sentence. Ultimately, the sentence is up to the judge in your case. It's worth noting that even with a plea bargain probating the sentence; you will be required to serve a minimum of ten days in jail as part of any plea deal. This sentence cannot be waived or probated.

If you qualify for probation, the prosecutor must offer it to you as part of a plea bargain. Any plea bargain will also require approval from the judge in your case. To complete probation, you may be required to complete up to 600 hours of community service, to attend substance abuse counseling or classes, and to take part in DWI intervention programs.


In addition to jail time, you may also face stiff fines upon your conviction of DWI-third offense. The maximum fine available in your case is $10,000, although the judge is not required to fine you the full amount. Take note that this figure is only for the fine itself; you will also be on the hook for court costs, counseling fees, interlock device costs, and other associated expenses. The cost of a DWI conviction can be staggering.

Driver's License Suspension

If convicted of a third DWI, you can count on a suspension of your driving privileges. Like with jail sentences, the administrative penalties for a DWI increase with each additional conviction. A conviction for a third-offense DWI will lead to a two-year suspension of your driver's license.

To get your license back, the court will likely require that you install an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is a device installed in your vehicle that requires you to blow into it before your vehicle can start. If the IID detects any alcohol on your breath, the vehicle will not be able to start.

A license suspension is costly. You will face fees in order to have your license reinstated as well as a licensing fee surcharge of $2,000 per year for three years.

Additional Consequences

With a conviction for your third DWI, you will face additional consequences other than those listed by statute. These consequences affect everything from your ability to get a job to your right to own a firearm. Some of these consequences include:

  • Loss of Employment
  • Difficulty finding housing
  • Losing your right to vote
  • Losing your right to own firearms
  • Negative impact on your reputation
  • Losing a professional license
  • Barred from receiving some government benefits.

These consequences are more than a hassle; they can have a lasting negative effect on your life.

Hiring the Best Houston DWI Attorney

The punishment for a 3rd DWI in Texas is severe, and life as a convicted felon can be difficult. For many, fighting a DWI-third offense charge in court is the best choice. After all, if you are acquitted of the charge, you won't be subject to the consequences of a conviction. It's possible to win a Houston DWI case, but doing so starts with hiring the right attorney.

Attorney Doug Murphy is Houston's best DWI lawyer for you -- if you are the kind of person who wants to fight the charge. An experienced trial attorney who is a well sought after speaker to teach successful trial strategies to other lawyers throughout the United States, Doug Murphy prepares every case as though it will end in a jury trial. 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 State of Texas that can claim that distinction. Doug Murphy understands how a conviction for a third DWI can affect your life and is ready to help you build the strongest defense possible. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation today.

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If you are facing DWI or other criminal charges in Texas, contact our office today to discuss your case, so we can begin working on your defense. Please provide only your personal email and cell phone number so that we can immediately and confidentially communicate with you.