If you were arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, you will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor. There are, however, circumstances that can cause a person’s DWI charges to be enhanced to a felony, which come with much more severe penalties. Felony DWI charges typically require a different approach when it comes to formulating a strong defense, so if you are facing DWI charges, it is important to speak with a Houston DWI lawyer who has experience with these types of criminal allegations.
The Driver Has Two Previous DWI Convictions
Most DWI-related crimes are charged as misdemeanors. In certain cases, however, a DWI charge, even one that would normally qualify as a misdemeanor, will be enhanced to a felony. For instance, drivers who are charged with a third DWI after having two previous convictions on their record will automatically be charged with at least a third degree felony. Multiple DWI convictions are punishable by up to ten years in prison, $10,000 in fines, and a mandatory two year driver’s license revocation.
A Minor Was in the Car
Anyone who is pulled over for drunk driving and who has a passenger under the age of 15 years old in the vehicle can also expect to be charged with a state felony, even for a first offense. DWI with child passenger convictions are punishable by at least six months in jail and hefty fines.
The Driver Caused Someone Else to Suffer a Serious Injury
DWIs that result in serious bodily harm to someone else are usually enhanced to a felony intoxication assault charge. These types of charges tend to arise most often in cases where a drunk driver allegedly caused an accident, in which at least one other person was injured. Defendants who are convicted of intoxication assault face between two and 10 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, mandatory completion of a DWI education course, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Besides criminal penalties, someone convicted of this offense should also be prepared for a civil suit filed by the alleged victim.
The DWI Results in a Death
Those who are accused of causing someone else’s death while driving under the influence could face second degree felony manslaughter charges. If convicted of this offense, a person faces as much as 20 years in prison.
DWI Lawyers in Houston
Being convicted of a felony DWI can have severe repercussions on a person’s life, making it difficult to secure employment and find housing. Many of those who are convicted of this type of offense also end up spending a significant amount of time in jail and are forced to get by in day-to-day life without a driver’s license. Building a strong defense is one of the best ways to avoid being unfairly convicted of a DWI. Please call The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 280-0100 to learn more about how an experienced Houston DWI lawyer could help with your own case.