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Can DWI Be a Felony in Texas?

In the majority of Texas cases involving DWI, or driving while intoxicated, drivers are typically charged with misdemeanor level offenses. This is especially true of first-time offenders who were stopped and arrested without any incident. Although DWIs are more often than not charged as misdemeanors, this does not mean that every DWI case will be a misdemeanor, especially if aggravating circumstances exist.

Under Texas state law, drivers can be charged with felony DWI in certain cases. As with any felony, these charges should be taken very seriously, as they can pose minimum terms of imprisonment, lengthy driver’s license suspension or revocation, years of probation, a loss of civil rights, and the many long-term challenges that come with having a felony on one’s criminal record. Felonies are the most serious offense level in Texas.

At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., our Addison DWI defense attorneys have experience representing clients in Counties across the state after they were charged with serious crimes, including felony DWI. If you or someone you love stands accused, don’t hesitate to speak with a member of our team during a FREE consultation. Felony DWIs can be life-altering charges, and they demand the immediate attention of proven criminal defense attorneys.

A DWI can become a felony in Texas in several ways:

  • Child endangerment – Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger under the age of 15 is a felony level offense, even if it is the first DWI offense a driver has ever been charged with. DWI with child endangerment is a state jail felony, and it carries penalties that include terms of imprisonment in a state jail between 180 days to 2 years, and fines up to $10,000.
  • A third offense – Having prior DWI convictions is considered an aggravating factor in any DWI case (this is why second DWIs are commonly prosecuted as Class A misdemeanors rather than Class B misdemeanors for most first-time offenses). As such, Texas law stipulates that drivers who are arrested for a third DWI can face 3rd Degree Felony charges, which carries a state prison sentence between 2 to 10 years in state prison, and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Causing injury or death – If a DWI results in an auto accident that causes injury, drivers can be charged with the 3rd Degree Felony of intoxication assault, regardless of how many prior DWI convictions they had and even if it is their first DWI offense of any type. DWI accidents that result in death are charged as intoxication manslaughter, a 2nd Degree Felony that carries a state prison sentence of 2 to 20 years, and up to $10,000 in fines.

In addition to felony DWIs and the penalties they pose, accused individuals can also face increased punishment for other aggravating factors, including driving on a suspended license, having a high BAC level, and picking up a new charge while on probation. Whatever the facts of your arrest and charge may be, it is critical that you work with criminal defense attorneys who know how to defend against felony charges and the serious penalties you face.

Contact An Experienced DWI Defense Attorney!

Lead attorney Scott Palmer is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This is a distinction held by only a small percentage of attorneys in the state of Texas, and it speaks volumes about Attorney Palmer’s expertise in the area of criminal law. He applies his specialization, as well as the insight and experience of our entire legal team, to aggressively defend clients, protect their rights, and fight for the best resolution possible.

Charged with a felony DWI? Contact our firm for a free consultation.