Is Your Texas DWI a Felony or a Misdemeanor?
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a severe crime. In Texas, most first-offense DWIs are Class B misdemeanor offenses. First-offense misdemeanor DWIs in Texas expose a client to a potential sentence of up to 6 months in jail. However, suppose there is a finding that the accused operated the motor vehicle with an open container in the person’s immediate possession. In that case, a first offense carries a minimum term of confinement of six days. Additionally, if it is shown on a first offense that the client had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more, a first-offense DWI is treated as a Class A misdemeanor with a punishment range of up to one year in jail. DWI convictions carry a driver’s license suspension and substantial possible fines/surcharges. Any DWI charge is a serious matter. Even on a first offense DWI, a client can be charged with a felony if certain aggravating factors are alleged.
If you’re unfamiliar with the laws surrounding DWI in Texas, then it’s time to get acquainted. Understanding what actions are illegal and the consequences that can be faced are vital to keeping the roads safe and ensuring your future isn’t ruined by one lapse of judgment. Read on to find out what you need to know. If you plan on going somewhere and drinking alcoholic beverages, make sure to plan not to drive. There is no reason to risk being arrested for DWI.
What Is a DWI in Texas?
Driving while intoxicated in Texas means that a person is operating a motor vehicle while impaired. Specifically, it means that they have a blood alcohol content of more than 0.08 percent. However, you can be arrested for a DWI even if your blood alcohol is below that level. At any time, police can arrest you if they think you don’t have use of your physical or mental faculties due to drug or alcohol use. In other words, if you’re impaired on any level and driving, then you’re in legal trouble.
A Misdemeanor or Felony?
In Texas, most DWIs will be treated as misdemeanors. There are several instances, however, where a person will be charged with a felony DWI. These include:
A Person with Two or More Past DWI Convictions
If you have two DWIs in Texas, even if they were misdemeanors on your criminal record, then any other DWIs will be charged as third-degree felony DWIs. If you are charged with this level of felony, then you can face up to 10 years in state prison, be required to pay fines of as much as $10,000, and have your driver’s license suspended for up to two years.
Additionally, any DWI that you have ever had can be used to enhance your charge to a felony. If at any point you have ever had a DWI, whether in Texas or not, it counts toward the total that can lead to more significant penalties.
A Child Passenger
If you are pulled over and arrested for a DWI with a child in the care under the age of 15, you’re facing felony DWI charges. Your relation to the child does not matter. The state considers this a child-endangerment situation, and the penalties can be pretty stiff. You may be sent to prison for as many as two years and be responsible for fines of as much as $10,000.
If you were intoxicated and involved in an accident that caused serious bodily injuries to another person, then you can be charged with intoxication assault. This is considered a third-degree felony and carries a maximum punishment of up to ten years in state prison. The state takes these cases very seriously because there is an alleged victim in the case.
Intoxication manslaughter occurs when an intoxicated person causes an accident resulting in another person’s death. You must be at fault for the accident with your intoxication being the cause of the person’s death. This is considered