When is a DWI a Felony in Texas?
Posted on Sep 6, 2013 11:06am UTC
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs are serious criminal offenses with serious criminal penalties. Although DWIs are often charged as misdemeanors, especially for first-time offenders, there are a few ways in which more severe felony charges can arise. When a DWI is prosecuted as a felony offense, the stakes are elevated and the punishments intensified. This being the case, anyone who stands accused of a felony DWI should speak with a DWI lawyer in Houston as soon as possible. Felony DWI charges in Texas can arise in the following ways:
Multiple DWI Convictions
One of the most common reasons why individuals face felony charges for a DWI is by having prior DWI, DUI, or related convictions in the past. In Texas, you can be charged with felony DWI if you have two prior DWI or related convictions on your record. This means that a third DWI is grounds for felony prosecution. Prior convictions may include any Texas DWI offense, a DUI, or an out-of-state conviction.
Drivers may also face felony DWI charges if they have been convicted of a prior felony DWI. No matter if the prior offense occurred many years ago or if the new offense was only a misdemeanor, prosecutors can pursue felony charges if you have a felony DWI on your record.
DWI with Child Passenger
Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger is a felony offense in Texas. Under this law, anyone who operates a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a passenger under the age of 15 will be charged with a state jail felony. No prior DWI convictions are necessary. Penalties for DWI with a child passenger can include up to two years imprisonment, up to $10,000 in fines, or both. Drivers may also face other repercussions, including driver’s license suspensions, court ordered classes or treatment, and others.
DWI Resulting in Injury
A DWI that results in injury to another is officially known as intoxication assault in Texas. In order for prosecutors to convict a driver of this felony offense, they must prove that they caused “serious bodily injury” to another while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Under Texas law, “serious bodily injury” refers to any injury that creates a risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, or loss or impairment of any body part or organ. As a third-degree felony, intoxication assault is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, up to 10 years imprisonment, or both.
DWI Causing Death
DWI resulting in death – also known as intoxication manslaughter in Texas – is the most serious felony DWI offense. Drivers will face second-degree felony charges if they cause the death of another, whether by accident or mistake, while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. As intoxication manslaughter is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, anyone facing this charge should contact an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
If you or your loved one is currently facing felony DWI allegations for any of these situations, it is crucial to note that a conviction can seriously jeopardize your future. By reaching out to a Houston DWI lawyer from Billy Skinner & Associates as soon as possible, you can gain the support, information, and aggressive representation you need to protect your freedom.
Learn more about your case, the penalties you face, and how Attorney Billy Skinner can craft the defense you need by requesting a free case evaluation or by calling (713) 600-7777. Our firm’s office is located at:
712 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002