Texas is tough on crime and makes no exceptions for DWI charges. A person’s first DWI charge is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor unless another person was seriously injured or killed during a collision. It is crucial motorists understand how severe the penalties for drunk or drugged driving are in Texas before they decide to drive during a night out of partying.
The criteria for a felony charge
Here are three things that would upgrade a DWI charge to a felony:
- The DWI is the driver’s third offense. Texas courts prosecute subsequent DWI charges more severely. Prior convictions can be the deciding factor of whether you serve prison time. There is no time limit for how long a DWI conviction can affect additional DWI charges, as Texas has no ‘lookback period’ restrictions.
- There was a child in the car. If there was a child passenger under the age of 15 during the alleged DWI arrest, this could escalate a charge to a felony.
- If another person had been seriously injured or killed, this would result in an automatic felony charge. DWI-related injuries are called ‘intoxication assault’ and ‘intoxication manslaughter.’
Penalties for multiple DWI convictions
A second DWI comes with a minimum of 30 days in jail to a maximum of one year and up to $4000 in fines. A third DWI offense, as well as additional DWI offenses, are counted as Third Degree felonies with between 2 and 10 years of prison time and up to $10,000 in fines (not including legal fees and court costs).
Picking up the pieces
A felony DWI can completely transform your life, affecting your career, financial standing and family stability. You need choices. A criminal defense lawyer skilled in DWI charges and multiple offenses can help you take control of your life.