Is a DWI a Felony in Texas?

Is a Dwi a Felony in Texas

A typical initial offense DWI in Texas is not a criminal violation but rather a misdemeanor, assuming that any DWI can be considered ordinary. However, DWI offenses in Texas can easily become felonies. In addition, a Texas DWI conviction can become a felony if there are additional convictions for the same offense. It is not only several past DWI convictions that can turn a DWI into a felony. There are also other factors surrounding the DWI. Even if you have never been charged with a DWI before, your first DWI offense in Texas may result in felony charges, depending on the specifics of your arrest. When you are charged with a Texas DWI, it can be crucial to know exactly how those charges become felonies. This is covered in detail in the discussion that follows.

What is a DWI?

Driving while intoxicated is defined as “when a vehicle is in operation in public” under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04. If someone’s mental or physical abilities have been affected by alcohol, a controlled substance, or risky drug usage, the state defines them as a drunk driver. It is also established that intoxication occurs when the blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or above.

Texas DWI Felony Laws

First- or second-time DWIs that don’t result in harm or death are often prosecuted as misdemeanors. Nonetheless, in Texas, driving while intoxicated crimes fall into one of four categories:

  • Third or subsequent,
  • In the presence of a minor,
  • Alcohol-related assault and
  • Manslaughter by intoxication.

Penalties for a DWI are increased in cases of prior offenses when a juvenile is a passenger when there is significant bodily injury, and when there is death.

Third DWI as a Felony

In Texas, a third DWI is a crime. Penalties resulting from a third DWI may include:

  • A state prison sentence of two to ten years,
  • A $10,000 maximum fine,
  • A two-year license suspension
  • A program for alcohol education,
  • Up to $2,000 in annual fees to maintain your license, plus
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

Which Penalties Are Considered Prior Offenses?

More than merely a prior DWI constitutes a prior offense. If it can be demonstrated that the defendant has been found guilty twice before of any other offense related to:

  • Drunkenly operating a motor vehicle
  • Flying a plane while intoxicated
  • Using a watercraft while under the influence, or
  • Running or putting together a fun ride when drunk.

How Long Does Texas Count Before DWIs?

When counting a person’s third or subsequent DWI, Texas takes into account any past BWIs, DWIs, or similar offenses. Texas does not have a look-back limit, in contrast to certain states where it is limited to a specific number of years. In Texas, an additional DWI penalty would apply if the DWI occurred 20 years before.

DWI Involving a Minor Passenger

Another kind of felony DWI is driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of fifteen. Driving while drunk with a child can result in the following criminal consequences, even if the driver was not involved in an accident and the child was not hurt:

  • 180 days to two years in the state prison department
  • A $10,000 maximum fine
  • License suspension for a maximum of two years
  • Programs for alcohol education or intervention,
  • An annual fee of up to $2,000 to maintain your license, plus
  • Ignition interlock device (IID).

DWI Including Assault by Intoxication and Serious Injury

When someone is seriously injured by drunk driving, it is called an intoxication assault. If a drunk driver injures someone seriously, that

  • Generates a significant risk of fatality,
  • Results in severe irreversible deformity, or
  • Prolonged impairment or loss of an organ or body function.

This might be a car crash with another vehicle, running over a pedestrian or cyclist, or even colliding with something and hurting the drunk driver’s passenger.

DWI That Endorses Death: Intoxication Murder

“Intoxication manslaughter” is the term used to describe drunk driving that causes the death of another person. The crime of intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony. The following are possible punishments for intoxication manslaughter:

  • Two to twenty years in a state penitentiary
  • Up to a $10,000 fine,
  • Suspension of license for up to two years, and
  • An annual fee of up to $2,000 is charged to maintain your license.

A Felony Conviction’s Collateral Consequences

A felony record has repercussions that might last for years after a person is freed from jail, even after they have paid the price of a criminal conviction. A conviction for a felony in Texas can limit:

  • Voting privileges for inmates
  • Entitlement to jury duty,
  • Entitlement to possess or own a firearm.

Additionally, it could be more challenging to obtain housing, work, or to apply for some scholarships or benefits if you have a felony record.

Is a DWI a Felony in Texas? FAQs

In Texas, is a DWI regarded as a felony?

While a first or second DWI crime is considered a misdemeanor in Texas, a third or subsequent DWI offense is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and a two-year suspension of one’s driver’s license.

For DWI, how long is jail time in Texas?

Texas imposes DWI sanctions for drivers who are 21 years of age or older based on the offense number and other circumstances unique to the case, just as it does for juveniles. A fine of up to $2,000. 3 to 180 days can be spent in prison. A two-year license suspension is possible.

What is the Texas classification for a DWI?

A DWI is often considered a Class B misdemeanor. However, a DWI turns into a Class A misdemeanor if the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 or greater. This fact increases the penalty that a driver facing a DWI accusation will face if found guilty.

In Texas, is DWI worse than DUI?

In Texas, a DWI is a more serious Class B misdemeanor charge than a DUI, which is classified as a Class C misdemeanor.

Is a DWI a Felony in Texas? Conclusion

Prosecutors do not necessarily have to prove a DWI charge against you for it to be found proven. Sometimes, when admissible evidence contradicts the greater charge, prosecutors overcharge DWI cases. When they don’t have admissible evidence to back up the greater charge, prosecutors can think they do. They might bill you incorrectly. Furthermore, some prosecutors might think that by overcharging for a possible but unproven DWI offense, they can more readily work out a plea deal for the smaller, more accurate charge. Regardless of your circumstances, you should be aware that having a knowledgeable and professional DWI specialist on your side can help you either lessen or perhaps completely win the enhanced DWI charge.

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