According to the Texas Penal Code §49.04, a person commits a DWI if they compromise their ability to operate a vehicle by using drugs or drinking alcohol. While a second DWI charge is not usually a felony, it can be under certain circumstances.
DWI charges in Texas are taken very seriously. When the charge is for a second DWI, the punishment is likely to be more severe, especially if it occurred within five years of the first offense. DWI cases can be complex. There are no DWI cases that are the same. The result of a second DWI can be different for each person.
Know What Is Considered Legal Intoxication in Texas
Intoxication is defined as not having normal physical or mental abilities due to the presence of alcohol or drugs. Intoxication also involves having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or more.
In order for the prosecution to prove you were driving while intoxicated, they must also be able to prove you did not have your normal use of your physical or mental capabilities. If you took a breathalyzer or blood test around the time of arrest, this evidence may be used to prove intoxication as well.
A field sobriety test may also be conducted at the time of the arrest to prove intoxication. Field sobriety tests are a series of physical tests to determine hand-eye coordination and balance. However, these tests are often deemed inaccurate. Legal intoxication needs to be proved before a person can receive a DWI conviction. If the prosecution cannot prove legal intoxication, they do not have a DWI case against you.
A Second DWI Can Lead to Felony Charges in Certain Circumstances
A DWI charge is normally classified as a Class B misdemeanor if a person has a BAC level of 0.08 percent or higher or a Class A misdemeanor if the person has a BAC level of 0.15 percent or higher. However, a few different circumstances might increase a misdemeanor charge to a felony charge. While a second DWI charge is not normally a felony, it can be increased to a felony if you:
Drove with a Child in the Car
If you drive with a child in the car while you are intoxicated, you may be charged with child endangerment if the child is under the age of 15. You might be additionally fined up to $10,000. Your jail time might increase to up to two years. Also, you might lose your driver’s license for an additional 180 days.
When you put a child in danger by driving while you are intoxicated, you could be looking at a much harsher punishment than if you were driving alone or with adults.
Caused Serious Bodily Injury or Death
If you were in an accident and received a DWI, you might be looking at serious charges if the accident caused injury or death to another person. This may result in a felony charge. If you caused serious bodily injury or death to another person due to your intoxication, the punishment can be severe. Each case is different, but you might be penalized with:
- A prison sentence of 2 to 20 years
- A fine up to $10,000, plus all court costs and fees
- Community service up to 800 hours
You Might Only Face Misdemeanor Penalties for a Second DWI
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), you are legally intoxicated when your blood alcohol concentration level reaches 0.08 percent. If you make the decision to drive at this point, you may be charged with a DWI. If you get charged with a DWI for the second time, the penalties are harsher than if it were the first DWI. Usually, a second DWI charge results in a Class A misdemeanor.
With the Class A misdemeanor, you might have to pay a fine of up to $4,000. You might also be looking at a jail time of a month to an entire year. If you are facing a second DWI charge, the penalties could be harsher. If you get charged, you will lose your driver’s license for up to two years.
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Get Help with Your DWI Charge
When you are charged with a DWI for the second time, a DWI lawyer can help you fight the charges and fight to prevent the second DWI charge from escalating to a felony. If a second DWI is a felony, a lawyer can help fight to reduce the charges back down to a Class A misdemeanor.
If you were involved in an accident and received a DWI, you can never get your record sealed if you are convicted. Our team can work with you to determine if the prosecution can prove legal intoxication without a doubt. We can give you a fair fight when facing the prosecution and the charges against you.
Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today at (214) 696-9253 to schedule a free consultation. When the rest of your life is at stake, you should not take any chances.