Although driving while intoxicated charges are usually misdemeanors, there are certain circumstances in which DWI charges become felonies. Along with felony charges comes the potential for more severe penalties, including prison time, license suspension, and substantial fines. If you are facing charges, you may wish to seek the counsel of a Dallas felony DWI lawyer.
A felony DWI conviction on your permanent criminal record can make finding a job or housing far more difficult. You also may lose some of your civil rights, such as the ability to carry a firearm. Avoiding some or all these possible consequences may be more likely with the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer.
Enhanced DWI Charges in Dallas
If individuals have a passenger who is a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle at the time of committing a DWI, they can face a state jail felony charge. A conviction may result in a jail sentence of up to two years, as well as a license suspension and a $10,000 fine.
Another common example of felony DWI is when individuals have a history of previous DWI convictions. For example, under Texas Penal Code § 49.09, a DWI charge is a third-degree felony when individuals have the following previous convictions:
- One prior conviction for intoxication manslaughter, or a similar offense under the laws of another state
- Two prior convictions for DWI or operating a watercraft, aircraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated
A conviction for a third-degree felony under Tex. Pen. Code § 12.34 can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and a maximum $10,000 fine. Individuals convicted of felony DWI will be subject to a license suspension, and if the DWI offense occurs within five years of the date of the most recent prior DWI offense, they must drive with an ignition interlock device in place for at least one year following the expiration of the license suspension.
Tex. Pen. Code § 49.07 also establishes intoxication assault as a third-degree felony offense. This offense occurs when individuals cause bodily injury to others by accident or mistake while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. As the penalties for a third-degree felony DWI or intoxication assault can be significant, individuals facing these charges may want to consult a felony DWI lawyer in Dallas for advice.
Second-Degree Felony DWI Charges
A DWI also can be a second-degree felony charge in some circumstances. For example, if individuals commit the offense of intoxication assault against firefighters or emergency medical services personnel in the course of their official duties, and they suffer serious bodily injuries, the offense is a second-degree felony. Intoxication assault also is a second-degree felony if it results in traumatic brain injuries that leave others in a persistent vegetative state.
Another offense that constitutes a second-degree felony under Texas law is intoxication manslaughter, under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.08. To commit this offense, individuals must cause the death of another by accident or mistake while committing a DWI. As a felony DWI attorney in Dallas may advise, conviction on a second-degree felony charge can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a $10,000 fine.
Contact a Dallas Felony DWI Attorney for Advice
Felony DWI charges can have a significant impact on your life. Not only can you face lengthy terms of incarceration, but you will also be subject to a license suspension, potentially mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and a permanent felony record. Due to the severity of these penalties, you should consider contacting a Dallas felony DWI lawyer for guidance.
Building a strong defense and taking steps to protect your rights can be vital to avoiding or minimizing these potential consequences. Call today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.