Prior DWI Convictions As Elements of Offense to Prove Guilt

In Tamez v. State, 11 S.W.3d 198 (Tex. Crim. App. Jan. 5, 2000), the Court of Criminal Appeals continued to treat two prior DWI convictions as essential elements of felony DWI. See also Renshaw v. State, 981 S.W.2d 464, 466 (Tex. App.--Texarkana 1998, pet. ref'd) (Prior DWI's are elements of the offense and part of the proof at the guilt/innocence stage for a felony DWI prosecution.). The Court also referenced two prior cases that had earlier applied the same principle to theft convictions. Just as two prior DWI's are essential elements of the offense of the felony DWI, prior theft offenses are also jurisdictional elements when they are used to elevate what would be a misdemeanor theft offense to a felony theft. See Turner v. State, 636 S.W.2d 189, 196 (Tex. Crim. App. 1980); Gant v. State, 606 S.W.2d 867, 871 (Tex. Crim. App. 1980).