When Texas readers hear about a recent 30-year prison sentence, they may assume the crime at issue was violent, or perhaps was a white collar crime involving the alleged defrauding of millions of dollars from investors. Both assumptions would be wrong, as the criminal offense in today’s story is driving while intoxicated.
Under Texas law, the penalties for multiple DWIs increase with each subsequent offense. Whereas the first two DWI convictions might only be misdemeanors, a third DWI conviction becomes a third degree felony, with a potential imprisonment of up to 10 years. Felony DWI charges might also be brought against a Texas drunk driver who caused a fatal accident, or a driver who had a minor child in the car.
Yet the escalation doesn’t end there. Under a provision of Texas criminal code known as the three strikes law, the prison term for a third felony offense can be a life sentence. Thus, even if no fatalities resulted from a drunk driving incident, a defendant convicted of a fifth-offense DWI might face between 25 to 99 years in prison.
In today’s story, a Texas driver’s allegedly erratic driving on Interstate 10 resulted in a motor vehicle accident that killed a mother and her daughter. Texas authorities claim the man swerved and hit the victims’ car. The man’s blood alcohol level was reported to be almost three times above the intoxication limit of .08.
However, the man had two previous DWI convictions to his record. Thus, a third offense elevated his DWI offense to a felony. In addition, the fatalities associated with the offense also increased the severity of the charges brought against him. Those factors, coupled with the man’s alleged BAC level, may have persuaded the jury to hand down a 30-year sentence. The man will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least half of that sentence.
If you find yourself in a similar situation don’t hesitate to contact attorney Tad Nelson, one of the best DWI lawyers in the Houston-Galveston area when it comes to fighting drunk driving allegations.