Houston authorities make DWI arrests over holiday weekend

A Houston-area sheriff’s office joined the Texas Department of Public Safety in a Christmas weekend crackdown on drunken drivers. The authorities targeted high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent. The enforcement effort resulted in 21 people receiving DWI charges during the Christmas holiday weekend, ranging in age between mid-twenties and mid-fifties.

Of that number, six had been charged twice before with DWI. For such individuals, the potential consequences of a DWI conviction are very serious. Specifically, a second DWI conviction in Texas may include a fine up to $4,000, a jail sentence up to year, driver’s license suspension for a maximum of two year, and even an annual fine of $1,500 for three years to keep driving privileges.

The penalties get even more severe — more than twice the amount of fines or imprisonment — for a third DWI conviction. As a preliminary matter, a third DWI conviction is usually a felony under Texas law. Penalties for this criminal offense may include up to a $10,000 fine, between two and 10 years in prison, a suspended driver’s license for up to two years, and an annual fine of $2,000 for three years in order to maintain driving privileges.

Yet despite the severity of these penalties, local authorities believe that it was not the first time that most of the offenders charged with DWI over the weekend had driven under the influence. Rather, at least one sheriff believes it was just the first time that the charged offenders had gotten caught.

It’s not yet clear whether the stepped-up enforcement and punishments for DWI offenders resulted in fewer offenses in 2012. In 2011, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported 12 drunken driving deaths and made 258 DWI arrests between November 21 and December 31.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “6 third-time DWI offenders arrested over Christmas weekend,” Carol Christian, Dec. 28, 2012