Under any circumstance, being convicted for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas is a serious matter, but when the charges escalate to felony status, that’s when everything is on the line.
Misdemeanor DWI vs. Felony DWI
The first offense for DWI is classified as a Class B misdemeanor under Texas Law. Class B misdemeanor means that you’re at risk of up to 180 days of jail time, suspension of driving privileges, and a fine of up to $2,000.
However, if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.15 % or higher, the charge can elevate to a Class A misdemeanor. This charge may also elevate if controlled substances like illegal drugs are involved.
A second DWI offense is a Class A misdemeanor where the fine doubles to up to $4,000 and jail time can be as much as 1 year.
After two prior drunk driving convictions, if an individual is arrested for DWI again, the third offense can be charged as a felony.
Additionally, felony DWI charges also apply to individuals who are charged with:
- Intoxication assault—where an individual operating a motor vehicle, while intoxicated, causes an accident that results in serious bodily injuries to another person. Under the law, a serious bodily injury is defined as any injury that causes permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ or member.
- Intoxication manslaughter—where an intoxicated individual operating a motor vehicle causes the death of another person.
- DWI with a child passenger—when an individual is charged with DWI with a child under the age of 15 present in the vehicle.
The penalties for a felony DWI are substantially greater than misdemeanors. Hiring an experienced DWI attorney in Houston is the best way to make sure your rights are protected.
Penalties For A Felony DWI
A conviction for a felony DWI can result in a prison sentence of 2–10 years. If you stay out of trouble during your prison sentence, you can avoid serving most of that time, but the sentence duration is ultimately at the judge’s discretion.
It’s important to mention that even with a plea bargain, you will have to serve at least 10 days in jail as part of any plea deal.
If you qualify for probation as part of the plea bargain, you may be required to complete up to 600 hours’of community service, take DWI intervention programs and attend substance abuse classes.
Fines And Fees
DWI conviction fines can be severe, but they can be staggering if you’re charged with a felony. In addition to a fine of up to $10,000, you need to pay for counseling fees, court cost, and other expenses. Add on top of that lost wages, time off work and the possibility of job loss, a conviction can cause financial ruin in many cases.
Suspension Of Driver’s License
A felony DWI can lead to a two-year driver’s license suspension. This means paying a hefty amount of fees to get your license reinstated along with an annual fee surcharge of $2,000 for three years.
Plus, the court may ask you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) to get your license back. The IID requires you to blow into it to get your vehicle to start.
Additional consequences of a felony DWI include loss of employment, losing the right to own firearms, being barred from receiving certain government benefits, having difficulty finding housing, and of course, damage to your reputation.
Hire A Leading DWI Attorney In Clear Lake
The punishments for a felony DWI are severe; your best chance is to go to court with a skilled and experienced DWI defense attorney, like Attorney J.L. Carpenter, by your side.
Attorney J.L. Carpenter will work tirelessly to create a reasonable and strategically sound defense for your DWI charges. Contact J.L. Carpenter Law to fight for your rights and keep the charges from ruining your reputation.