If you are facing any kind of felony DWI charge in Texas, it is crucial for you to quickly retain qualified legal counsel. The Law Offices of RJ Harber has been representing people charged with felony DWI offenses in the Dallas area for more than 10 years. We have the skilled criminal defense experience that you need on your side if you’re facing felony charges, and we will fight to protect you against the harsh consequences that come with a conviction.
A first and even a second arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas usually results in misdemeanor charges, but any third or subsequent offense is a felony. Certain other drunk driving crimes in Texas also carry the possibility of felony charges.
Felony convictions involve much steeper consequences, which may include certain surcharges being imposed upon drivers. Convicted felons also lose valuable firearm rights and may face employment barriers because of their criminal records.
Our firm is committed to fighting for acceptable plea bargains or even dismissed charges. To learn more about your legal options, you can schedule a free case evaluation with us by calling (214) 389-1189 today.
Texas Felony DWI Laws
In Texas, any DWI arrest after a person had been convicted of two prior DWI offenses or was previously convicted for intoxication manslaughter is a third-degree felony. Other felony drunk driving offenses in Texas include:
DWI with Child Passenger, Texas Penal Code § 49.045
Involves a DWI in which the alleged offender has a passenger younger than 15 years old. DWI with a child passenger is a state jail felony.
Intoxication Assault, Texas Penal Code § 49.07
Involves a motor vehicle accident causing serious bodily injury to another person because the alleged offender was intoxicated. Intoxication assault is a second-degree felony.
Intoxication Manslaughter, Texas Penal Code § 49.08
Involves a motor vehicle accident causing the death of another person because the alleged offender was intoxicated. Intoxication manslaughter is a first-degree felony.
In most felony DWI indictments, there will be paragraphs denoting either “DWI—FELONY REPETITION,” which states that an alleged offender has been previously convicted of two misdemeanor DWI offenses, or “HABITUAL OFFENDER NOTICE,” which states that the alleged offender has been previously convicted of two prior felony offenses.
Texas Felony DWI Penalties
Convictions for felony DWI offenses often carry serious consequences. The possible sentence a person receives will depend on how their felony is classified. In general, felonies in Texas are punishable as follows:
State Jail Felony — 180 days to two years in state jail and/or fine of up to $10,000.
Third-Degree Felony — Two to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.
Second-Degree Felony — Two to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.
First-Degree Felony — Five to 99 years or life in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.
Another consequence of a felony DWI conviction is the suspension of the individual’s driver’s license. The length of a suspension can vary depending on the crime they were convicted of.
A license can be suspended up to one year if a driver is convicted of their first DWI with a child passenger or first intoxication assault crime. A suspension can be up to two years when a person is convicted of any repeat felony DWI offense, a second or subsequent intoxication assault, a first intoxication manslaughter, or a second or subsequent intoxication manslaughter.
Most felony DWI offenders will also be required to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) in their vehicles for a specified period of time before they can obtain occupational driver’s licenses. The court can also order 160 hours up to 600 hours of community service.
Most felony DWI offenders will also be required to attend a repeat offender alcohol or drug education program. Failure to complete this program will result in a license being revoked until the program is completed.
Drivers convicted of felony DWI offenses in Texas will also be assessed annual surcharges by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The surcharges are $2,000 per year and must be paid for three years. People who do not pay surcharges will have their driver’s licenses suspended.
Defending Against Felony DWI Charges
Whether you are facing your first, third, or fifth DWI charge in Texas, you should hire legal counsel as soon as you can. Regardless of your prior arrests, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the alleged felony DWI crime involved in order to convict you.
You will want to quickly find a criminal defense attorney because they will be able to review every aspect of your arrest to see if it was properly conducted. Numerous police errors or oversights can lead to DWI charges ultimately being dismissed.
For example, your breath test may have been performed by a person who was not authorized to conduct the test. It is also possible that the equipment utilized had not been properly maintained, and the test results are thus invalidated. Numerous other factors can also come into play. Why did the officer originally stop the alleged offender? Which types of field sobriety tests did they administer? How was the alleged offender informed of their consent to testing?
Every case is unique. Each person has their own experience, and certain independent factors can often make huge differences in criminal cases. It is important for people to make sure they are working with a lawyer who is dedicated to exhaustively reviewing all of the facts to determine the most advantageous defenses.
Were you arrested for a felony DWI offense in Texas? Do not delay in seeking legal representation, as you will want to take quick action to give yourself the best possible defense in court.
The Law Offices of RJ Harber has experience on both sides of the aisle in the handling of these cases, which gives our firm a unique insight into possible issues with evidence being used against you. Call (214) 389-1189 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.