Is a DWI a Felony?
If you have been charged with a third DWI in Texas, third degree felony, you have a difficult fight ahead of you. The penalties for a third degree felony include imprisonment from two to ten years and up to a $10,000 fine. In addition, your driver’s license can be suspended. An experienced DWI attorney, however, can help you reduce some of the penalties you face.
The best defense for a third DWI is to take extreme precautions to avoid the third charge. Do not roll the dice on drinking and driving. A taxi or hotel room is a lot cheaper than a DWI, particularly a third DWI in Texas, third degree felony.
Substances Other Than Alcohol Can Cause Intoxication That Leads to a DWI
Intoxication from any substance is illegal while driving a motor vehicle in a public place. Along with a blood alcohol content of .08, intoxication is defined as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to the ingestion of alcohol, legal or illegal drugs or a combination of the aforementioned substances. Therefore, using marijuana can lead to a DWI, just as a few shots of bourbon can. Furthermore, Texas law holds that even if your intoxication was caused by a legal drug taken in a legal fashion, you are still susceptible to a DWI charge. Consequently, if you have a valid prescription for Percocet, and the medication causes a decline in your mental and physical abilities, you can be charged with a third DWI in Texas, third degree felony.
Your Driving Record Follows You
An out of state violation counts toward your third DWI in Texas, third degree felony. Therefore, if you drive to Oklahoma to see the Longhorns or Aggies play the Sooners and get a charge in Oklahoma for drinking and driving, that violation will be reported to the state of Texas. Perhaps that was your second DWI, and it happened years ago. Let’s say your first DWI was also some years ago when you were younger and a bit less cautious. You may have largely corrected your errors and forgiven yourself for the bad judgment of youth. Unfortunately, the state of Texas is not so forgiving. Texas has no limit on its look-back rule. Regardless of how long ago you received your DWIs, the state of Texas will count them as elements of a third DWI in Texas, third degree felony.
So, let’s say now you have matured, are raising a family, and holding down a responsible job; life is good. One day, you stop and have a few beers at a sports bar to watch a game. The game goes into overtime, and you have one more beer. On the way home, you get a third DWI in Texas, third degree felony.
Talking about what you should have done is useless; now is the time to focus on what can be done to help you with your DWI felony charge. Call an experienced and dedicated DWI attorney as soon as you can.
You Have Legal Rights
Regardless of the charges you face, you have a right to due process. The state must follow the law in their efforts to prosecute you for a third DWI in Texas, third degree felony. You also have the presumption of innocence; the state must prove its case before you can be convicted.
Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause
As your case proceeds, your attorney will examine what brought you to the attention of the police. The police must have reasonable suspicion before they stop a car for DWI. Reasonable suspicion means that a law enforcement officer must have a good reason for thinking that a someone was engaged in criminal activity. If a police officer sees you driving out of the parking lot of a bar, that alone is not enough to form reasonable suspicion. If no reasonable suspicion exists for the stop, your attorney can make a motion to suppress all evidence that came from the stop that the state plans to use in your trial.
Before you are arrested, the police must find probable cause that you committed a crime. In a DWI stop, the police often need your cooperation to develop evidence for probable cause. After you provide the officer the needed evidence, you will be charged with a third DWI in Texas, third degree felony.
Right to Remain Silent and to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
Initially, the police officer will ask you if you have been drinking. Whether the police have given you the Miranda warnings or not, you do not have to answer any question the police ask, except to identify yourself. The law does require you to show the police your driver’s license and registration. Miranda warnings refer to the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. However, the police do not give you the Miranda warnings until they take you into custody.
When the police ask you a question, tell them that you do not want to answer any questions until you have consulted an attorney. The police are seeking evidence to charge you with your third DWI in Texas, a third degree felony. Assert your rights in a respectful tone. Do not help them make the case against you. If you admit to the police that you were drinking, this will be reported at your trial.
However, if you made statements to the police, tell your attorney everything. Possibly sufficient facts exist that indicate you were in custody when you made the statements. If so, and the police did not give the Miranda warnings, your attorney may be able to suppress your statement. Moreover, he can prevent it from being used as evidence against you in your trial for a third DWI in Texas, a third degree felony.
The police will also ask you to perform a series of mental and physical tests. The purpose is to determine if you are intoxicated. Again, you do not have to perform the test. This may irritate the police. However, your goal is to prevent the police from gathering evidence to convict you of your third DWI in Texas, a third degree felony.
Texas is an implied consent state. Implied consent means that by driving on the roads and streets in Texas, you agree to submit to a breathalyzer and other chemical tests to determine if you are intoxicated. If you refuse, your license will be suspended. However, if you do submit to the breathalyzer, the state can use the reading as evidence to convict you of your third DWI in Texas, a third degree felony.
Frequently, breathalyzers and other tests are not conducted properly. If you did submit to a test, your attorney can examine the protocol that was used for the test. If problems exist, the attorney can move to exclude the evidence from the trial.
To Learn More About a Third DWI in Texas, Third Degree Felony
If you have been charged with a third DWI in Texas, third degree felony, you need an attorney who will fight for you every step of the way. Call John Eastland, Attorney at Law, P.C. today at (903) 705-7899 to learn about what options are available to you.