A DWI can turn into a felony easily. It is important to know what makes a DWI rise to a felony. It is even more important to hire a lawyer if you’re facing a felony DWI. A felony DWI comes with a lot harsher punishments and is a serious charge. Hiring an experienced DWI lawyer should be your first priority.
Offenses that lead to a Felony DWI
There are four different offenses that lead to a Felony DWI in Texas.
If you have been convicted of two DWIs in the past, your third (or more) will be a felony DWI. There is no time limit on this. For example, if you were convicted of DWI in 2005 and again in 2008, your next DWI arrest will be a felony. Any subsequent DWI after the third will be a felony, as well.
You can also be charged with a Felony DWI if there is a child 15 years old or younger in the car with you when you are arrested.
Intoxication assault is also Felony DWI. If your DWI accident causes serious bodily injury to another person, you will be charged with intoxication assault. It does not matter how many prior DWIs you have had.
Intoxication manslaughter is also a felony. If your DWI accident causes the death of another person, you will be charged with intoxication manslaughter. This is the most serious Felony DWI charge.
All of these felony charges require an experienced lawyer on your team. Because the punishment ranges are much harsher and include prison time, you need someone to fight to protect your rights and get you the best outcome possible.
Major Penalties from a Texas Felony DWI
The range of punishment on a Felony DWI is much different than a regular misdemeanor DWI.
As mentioned above, a 3rd (or more) DWI is a third-degree felony. The punishment range on a third-degree felony is anywhere between 2 years and 10 years in prison. You can also be fined up to $10,0000. If you are convicted of a felony DWI and you have previously been to prison, the punishment range is enhanced. If you’ve been to prison once before, it is now a second-degree felony, with a punishment range from 2 years to 20 years in prison. If you’ve been to prison twice before, the punishment changes from a minimum of 25 years to life imprisonment.
A DWI with a child under 15 in the car is a state jail felony. This punishment range is anywhere from 180 days up to 2 years in a state jail facility. The fine is up to $10,000. The state jail facility is a state-run facility but still has prison-like conditions.
Intoxication assault is more serious. It is a third-degree felony and has a punishment range of 2-10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. You can be charged with this offense even if it’s your first DWI. If someone is seriously injured, you will be charged with intoxication assault no matter how many prior DWIs you have.
Lastly, intoxication manslaughter is the most serious of the four felonies. Intoxication manslaughter is an automatic second-degree felony, with a punishment range of 2 years to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
These are all serious charges that will stay on your criminal record forever and may impact your ability to get a job in the future. Even more important is that all of the Felony DWI charges can lead to prison time. This is why it is essential to hire a criminal defense lawyer experienced in defending felony DWI’s to fight your DWI charge and try and keep you out of prison.