A DWI conviction can have lasting effects on your life. The more DWI convictions you have will normally come with harsher punishments. When a DWI becomes a felony, the consequences are far more severe than the typical first time DWI arrest.
A DWI becomes a felony in Texas when it is your third or more DWI; however, there are facts that can turn a first time DWI arrest into a felony. Additionally, a DWI will be a felony if you have been convicted once before of Intoxication Manslaughter.
Third or More DWI
Once you have been previously convicted of two DWIs, the next time you are arrested for DWI the case can be filed as a third degree felony. Each DWI arrest following a second DWI conviction may be charged as a third degree felony. You will be facing 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. It does not matter that you were convicted of 2 prior DWIs that were sentenced on the same day. As long as there are two DWI convictions, the above applies.
Each DWI may enhance the next DWI arrest. It does not matter if it has been 10 years or more since your last DWI, it may still enhance your next DWI arrest. A DWI from another state will also enhance your next DWI arrest if the law you were convicted under is similar to Texas’ DWI law.
Child Passenger Under the Age of 15
If you are arrested for DWI and you have a child under the age of 15 in your car, the case may be filed as a state jail felony. It does not matter if you have never been arrested for DWI before. You will be facing 180 days to 2 years in State Jail and a fine up to $10,000.
If someone is seriously injured in an accident (even your passenger) and you are shown to be intoxicated, you will be charged with a third degree felony. It does not matter if it is your first or second DWI. You will be facing 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. It does not matter that you did not act intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence. The law says that to prove your guilt, the State can show that you acted by mistake or accident.
When a person is killed in an accident where you are driving and it is shown you are intoxicated, you can be charged with a second degree felony. Again, it does not matter if this is your first DWI. You will face penalties of 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. As with Intoxication Assault, the law says that to prove your guilt, the State can show that you acted by mistake or accident.
Enhancements are just one reason it is important to talk to an experienced attorney. If you can avoid a DWI conviction, you should. A felony conviction can hurt your prospects of getting a new job or even renting an apartment. If your DWI is dismissed or you plead to a different offense, your next DWI arrest cannot be enhanced using that first arrest. A first DWI will only enhance a subsequent DWI arrest if you are convicted of DWI on that first case.
From your first meeting in our firm, we know you will recognize this is more than what you expected out of a law firm. We pride ourselves on professionalism in and out of court, our accessibility (our clients know they can set up an appointment and speak with us when they would like and will often email us directly about any questions or concerns), and our passion for the law. Contact our criminal defense team today by calling (512) 494-4070 or requesting a free consultation online now.
Steven Brand is a Board Certified criminal defense lawyer who graduated cum laude from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, achieving distinction there as a member of the Order of the Coif. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan. During law school, Mr. Brand studied under attorney Barry Scheck, a nationally renowned death penalty lawyer and founder of the first innocence project. Mr. Brand is admitted to practice law in the states of Texas and New York and the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas, Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York (New York City), U.S. Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces, Navy/Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, Army Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.