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Felony DWI

Felony DWI

In most drunk or drugged driving cases, the crime is classified as a misdemeanor offense. However, in certain circumstances, a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge may be reclassified as a felony due to certain aggravating factors. These factors can include having an exceedingly high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), having a child passenger during the commission of the offense, or you have a prior criminal record regarding DWI or other related charges.

The penalties for a felony DWI range from 2 years in state jail to life imprisonment depending on the facts of the case. With so much at stake, you don’t have time to hire a rookie attorney just learning the ropes. You need an experienced and skilled legal professional who has extensive experience handling felony cases, specifically those for DWI. For that reason and more, we highly encourage you to reach out to Horak Law.

Felony DWI Texas Attorney, Houston | Harris County

Felony DWI charges are incredibly serious and carry penalties that could alter your life indefinitely. If you’re facing charges for a felony DWI offense, it’s within your best interest to call Horak Law. Matthew Horak is a seasoned criminal defense attorney with practice in over 50 criminal trials. He’s acted as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in the state of Texas, so he has a unique perspective that may be beneficial to your case.

Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation free of charge. We are located in The Woodlands and Houston, but we accept clients throughout the area including Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, and Liberty County.

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Is a DWI a Felony in Texas?

The majority of drunk driving and DWI cases are classified as misdemeanors since the crime is non-violent and relatively common in the United States. Despite this, there are circumstances where a DWI offense can be reclassified as a felony because of aggravating factors existing during the commission of the crime. The severity of the penalties will depend on what type of felony DWI you’re facing as well as if you have a criminal history of drunk driving.

Listed below are the various ways the state of Texas can enhance DWI to a felony charge.

How Many DUI is a Felony in Texas?

Your first two DWI convictions will likely result in a misdemeanor. Once you hit your third or subsequent DWI offense, though, you’ll automatically face felony charges. It’s important to note there is no “look back period” in Texas like other states such as Florida.  Any prior DWI conviction you have could be utilized to enhance your current criminal charge, and that includes DWI convictions that happened years or even decades ago.

You’ll face a third-degree felony if you have two prior convictions for any of the following:

  • DWI
  • DWI with a child passenger
  • DWI with .15 BAC
  • BWI (Boating while intoxicated)
  • FWI (Flying while intoxicated)
  • Assembling or operating an amusement park ride intoxicated
  • Intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter

DWI with a Child Passenger

Since children are vulnerable to their parent’s actions, the state of Texas has implemented penalty enhancements if you commit DWI with a child passenger. Under Texas law, a child is defined as any person at the age 15 or younger.

Under the Texas Penal Code Section 49.045, if you are found drunk driving with a child passenger, you’ll face a state jail felony. You could even lose custody of your children if the minor was your biological or adopted child.

In Texas, the maximum sentence a person can face for a state jail felony includes:

  • Up to 2 years in state jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Intoxication Assault

Driving while intoxicated is obviously a serious crime, but if a person is injured due to the offense, you should expect enhanced penalties. The Texas Penal Code Section 49.07 states if a person sustains a serious bodily injury due to DWI the alleged offender will be charged with intoxication assault.

According to the code, a “serious bodily injury” is defined as any substantial risk of death that causes permanent disfigurement or the loss or impairment of a bodily member like an arm or an organ. Please note, the penalties may be enhanced if any of the following apply:

  • The victim sustained a brain injury
  • The victim was put in a vegetative state
  • The victim was a firefighter
  • The victim was emergency medical service personnel

Intoxication Manslaughter

Unfortunately, people succumb to their injuries due to driving accidents every day. However, if one of the surviving drivers is intoxicated, then they could face a charge of intoxication manslaughter. The crime is defined under the Texas Penal Code Section 49.08.

The judge may extend the sentence for intoxication manslaughter if victim was one of the following and was in the middle of performing their official duties.

  • Judge
  • Firefighter
  • Peace officer
  • Judge
  • Emergency medical service personnel

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Penalty for Felony DWI in Texas

The penalties for felony DWI will depend on what section of the Penal Code you violated by driving while intoxicated. If you’re facing charges for a third or subsequent DWI, then you’ll be charged with a third-degree felony. In Texas, a third-degree felony carries the following maximum sentence:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Committing DWI with a child passenger in the vehicle is a state jail felony. In Texas, the maximum sentence a person can face for a state jail felony includes:

  • Up to 2 years in state jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony. However, it can be enhanced to a second-degree felony if the victim was a firefighter, emergency medical personnel, the victim sustained a TBI, or they were put in a persistent vegetative state.

The penalties for a second-degree felony include:

  • A possible fine of up to $10,000
  • Maximum of 20 years in prison

If the victim was a judge or peace office, then you’ll be facing a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony, but it can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the victim is a firefighter, judge, peace office, or emergency service personnel.

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Additional Resources

Texas Felony DWI Laws – Visit the official website for the Texas Statutes to read their legislation regarding felony DWI cases. Learn more about the various types of felony DWI including third DWI convictions, intoxication manslaughter, and intoxication assault.

DWI Task Force – Visit the official website for the Houston Police Department to learn more about their DWI Investigative Unit. Access the site to learn more about their tactics, requirements to join, and other important information.

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Harris County for Felony DWI | DUI Felony Texas

If you or someone you know is facing charges for felony DWI, it’s imperative you seek legal counsel. Find experienced and skilled legal representation with Matthew Horak of Horak Law. He’s been practicing criminal defense for years with a special focus in drunk driving offenses. With his skills, resources, and aggressive approach, he can build a formidable defense for your case.

You can reach Horak Law at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation free.

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