A DWI is a serious offense in the state of Texas and can be considered a felony under certain conditions. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), penalties for committing a felony DWI include:
- Prison time
- Suspension of your driver’s license for 180 days to 2 years
- A fine of up $10,000
- Subsequent annual fees of $2,000 for 3 years to maintain your driver’s license
- Community service
- Mandated attendance of an alcohol education program
- Disqualification of your commercial driver license
Driving While Intoxicated in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code §49.04, a person commits a DWI if their ability to operate a vehicle in a public place has become compromised due to alcohol or drugs. The penalties for being convicted for a DWI in Texas can vary depending on whether you are being charged as an adult or a minor; however, minors can also be charged as adults.
The minimum BAC level (blood alcohol concentration) is .08, but a person can also be considered to be intoxicated if they are impaired due to other drugs, including alcohol. Both drivers and passengers in a vehicle with an open container can be fined up to $500. If you do not submit to a BAC test, you will receive an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for 180 days. The penalties vary on the circumstances under which someone is arrested for a DWI.
Penalties for a Felony DWI
A DWI can be considered a felony if it is your third subsequent DWI offense, or if it is a one-time offense that meets certain qualifications, as stated under Texas Penal Code Chapter 49. The list below explains each in more detail.
It Is Your Third Offense
The first offense can incur a fine of up to $2,000, 3 to 180 days in jail, and a 1-year driver’s license suspension. The second offense can incur a fine of up to $4,000, a period of a month to a year in jail, and the suspension of your driver’s license of up to 2 years. The third offense can be tried as a felony. It can incur a $10,000 fine, serving prison time of 2 to 10 years, and suspension of your driver’s license for up to 2 years.
Driving While Intoxicated with Child Passenger
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.045, if a person is operating a vehicle with an under 15 years old passenger in a public place while intoxicated, it is considered a state jail felony. If you are driving under the influence with a child passenger under 15 years old, you may also be charged with child endangerment. You can be charged with a fine of up to $10,000, up to 2 years in Texas state jail.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.07, if an operator of a motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or amusement ride is intoxicated and causes serious bodily injury to another, then this is a third-degree felony.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.08, a person is operating a motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or amusement ride and their intoxication causes the accidental death of another. This is a felony of the second degree.
Enhanced DWI Felony Offenses
In addition to the above, there are other criteria that can increase a DWI felony charge. They include:
- Causing serious bodily injury to a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel while they are on duty.
- Causing serious bodily injury to another that results in traumatic brain injury and a subsequent persistent vegetative state.
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- Causing serious bodily injury to a judge or peace officer while they are on duty.
- Causing the death of a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel.
Assistance with Your Felony DWI Is Available
Keep in mind that in addition to the above possible charges you could face, if you are convicted, you may never get your records sealed. We might be able to help you avoid this. Call Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today at (214) 696-9253 for a free consultation. Our DUI and DWI attorneys from Dallas, Texas can fight to protect your rights.