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What Constitutes a DWI Felony?

In Texas, the majority of drunk driving cases, whether DWI or DUI, are categorized as misdemeanors. However, Texas DWI violations have the potential to escalate into felonies. Having more than one DWI in Texas isn’t the only thing that can make a DWI charge worse. Other factors should also be taken into account. In Texas, your first DWI offense could result in DWI felony charges. This is true regardless of your past record. The outcome depends on how your DWI arrest occurred.

The upcoming conversation explains how Texas DWIs can turn into felonies, which is crucial if you’re dealing with Texas DWI charges. Accusations of DWI felonies are way more serious and can lead to a long time in jail, big fines, and losing your driver’s license. Furthermore, such charges might result in the defendant receiving a lifelong felony criminal record, which can have a long-term impact on their life.

When Is Considered DWI a Felony? 

In Texas, minor offenses are things like your first-time DWI, a second DWI, a DWI with a high BAC (blood alcohol level), or a DWI with an open container of alcohol. Despite the fact that a DWI can result in harsh penalties. There are only four situations where it’s treated as a really serious felony DWI in Texas crime:

  1. The person had two or more DWI convictions in the past.
  2. Driving while Intoxicated (DWI) with a child passenger was in the car when the violation occurred.
  3. When a DWI leads to a crash that results in significant bodily harm or death.
  4. Intoxication manslaughter is the crime committed when a DWI causes an accident that results in death.

It’s important to know that unless one of the situations that mentioned earlier happens, the first and second DWI offenses in Texas are usually treated as minor crimes called misdemeanors.

Subsequent DWI Offenders (Texas Penal Code 49.09)

Your first and second DWIs in Texas are considered misdemeanor charges. But if you get a third, fourth, and any subsequent DWI offenses, it becomes a big issue, like a major felony.

Unlike some states that impose limitations on the look-back period for prior offenses, Texas does not have such restrictions. If you got in trouble for drunk driving in another state before, those past mistakes might count when they’re deciding how bad your DWI charges are in Texas. The penalties associated with a third DWI offense can encompass the following consequences:

Delito grave de tercer grado

  • A fine of up to $10,000.
  • A prison sentence ranges from two to ten years.
  • Driver’s license suspensions for up to two years.
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol education program.
  • There is an annual surcharge of up to $2,000 to maintain your license.
  • The installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)

DWI with a Child Passenger (Texas Penal Code 49.045)

In Texas, DWI cases involving a child passenger are treated as felony DWIs. Regardless of whether the child is your biological offspring, a relative, or an acquaintance, if they are under the age of 15 and present in your vehicle, it constitutes a significant concern. Even if nothing bad happened, and the child didn’t get hurt, driving while drunk with a child can result in these legal problems:

Cárcel Estatal Delito Grave

  • A fine of up to $10,000.
  • 180 days to two years in the state jail division is considered a jail sentence.
  • Fulfilling 1,000 hours of service to the community is mandatory.
  • Your driver’s license might be suspended for up to 180 days.
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol education or intervention program
  • There is an additional fee of up to $2,000 each year to keep your license.
  • An ignition interlock device (IID) is necessary.

Intoxication Assault (Texas Penal Code 49.07)

If you’re involved in an accident while driving under the influence, you may face intoxication assault charges. You may face these charges if the accident causes bodily injury to someone in your vehicle or another vehicle. The court considers intoxication assault as a DWI felony. If convicted of intoxication assault, you will face specific consequences and penalties, including:

Third-degree felony

  • A fine of up to $10,000.
  • The duration of imprisonment can range from 2 to 10 years.
  • Mandatory completion of up to 600 hours of community service.
  • Possible suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year.
  • Mandatory involvement in a program for alcohol education or intervention.
  • There is an annual surcharge of up to $2,000 to maintain your license.
  • Obligation to install an ignition interlock device (IID).

Intoxication Manslaughter (Texas Penal Code 49.08)

Intoxication manslaughter occurs when an accident happens due to your intoxication, resulting in someone’s death. If you were drunk and caused someone’s death in an accident, you are legally responsible for it. In Texas, this offense is categorized as a DWI felony with the following consequences:

Second-degree felony

  • Potential fine of up to $10,000.
  • A prison sentence can span from 2 to 20 years in jail.
  • Mandatory community service, the specific hours of which may vary.
  • Possible suspension of your driver’s license for up to 2 years.
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol education or intervention program
  • There is an annual surcharge of up to $2,000 to maintain your license.
  • Obligation to install an ignition interlock device (IID).

¿Arrestado? No se declare, ¡llámeme!

Don’t be misled by the classification of DWIs as felonies or misdemeanors in Texas. Especially when dealing with DWI felony charges, it’s crucial not to underestimate its seriousness. Felony DWI crime accusations demand the expertise of an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney.

Whether you are confronted with misdemeanor or DWI  felony charges in Texas, the potential consequences can be profoundly life-altering. During this challenging period, you possess the right to collaborate with a criminal defense attorney who will advocate for your rights.

DWI convictions have the potential to permanently reshape your future. For comprehensive assistance, don’t hesitate to contact a Texas felony DWI attorney at Texas Criminal Defense Group. We’ve got a no-pressure chat where we can talk about what might work for your case.