Is a DWI a Felony in Texas?
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a felony in Texas if any of the following conditions are true:
- A child under 15 years of age was in the car when you received the DWI
- You received the DWI after a car accident in which someone was badly hurt
- You received your third DWI conviction
DWI Laws in Texas
You can be charged with DWI in Texas if your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher. You can also be arrested if you were impaired due to drugs or alcohol regardless of your BAC, depending on the circumstances of your arrest.
If you have been arrested for DWI in Texas, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Your first and second arrests for DWI are usually considered misdemeanors. If you are convicted of DWI in Texas three or more times, you will be charged with felony DWI.
DWI with a Passenger Under 15 Years Old
If you were driving while intoxicated with a passenger under 15 years old in your vehicle, you may be charged with felony child endangerment. The penalties for this include:
- A $10,000 fine
- 2 to 10 years in prison
- Losing your driver’s license for up to 2 years
- An annual fee of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for 3 years to keep your driver’s license active
DWI with Multiple Past Convictions
The third time you are arrested for DWI, you will be charged with a felony DWI. Felony DWIs in Texas are punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000, prison time of up to 10 years, and community service of up to 800 hours. You may also be required to install a special ignition switch that prevents you from driving while intoxicated.
DWI Associated with Severe Injuries
If you are charged with a DWI in connection with an accident that caused significant harm to someone, you could be facing felony charges even if it is your first offense.
Intoxication assault occurs when a driver causes serious bodily injury with their car due to driving while intoxicated. This is a third-degree felony in Texas according to TX penal code Ch 49.07, and you may be fined up to $10,000 and face prison time from 2 to 10 years. You may also be required to serve 160 to 600 hours of community service.
Intoxication manslaughter is accidentally causing someone’s death due to driving while intoxicated. It is a second-degree felony. Punishment may include a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence from 2 to 20 years. You may also be required to serve from 240 to 800 hours of community service.
The Consequences of a Felony Conviction for DWI in Texas
As a DWI is a felony in Texas, the punishment for the offense is steep. Monetary fines, suspension of your license, and long prison sentences are not the only consequences of having a felony on your record. You can also lose many of the rights you were entitled to have as a U.S. citizen. It can also make it harder to find a job, secure housing, and retain your professional licenses and certifications. In addition, all felons risk losing the right to vote, the right to own firearms, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to hold public office. The Texas Department of Transportation details many of these consequences on their website.