The differences between a DWI misdemeanor and a DWI felony in Texas.
It is no secret that being
convicted for driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious criminal charge. Even if it was your very first drinking-related
crime and you were barely over the legal limit of 0.08, if you are convicted
you will still find yourself faced with serious consequences such as fines,
probation, possible jail time and even a misdemeanor charge.
However, while the consequences of a misdemeanor DWI charge can seem serious
and overwhelming, it is not the harshest punishment that you can receive
if you are arrested for drinking and driving.
The type of drinking and driving charge that you will face if convicted
of a DWI depends on a large number of factors. For example, a person will
typically receive a misdemeanor charge when they are convicted for their
first or second DWI offense. However, any DWI convictions after your second,
or if you were involved in a serious car accident that caused bodily injury
or property damage, you could be facing a possible felony charge.
When you are convicted of a felony, it can result in very serious consequences
that can have a significant effect on your entire life. For instance,
many government agencies or private businesses that deal with classified
information are allowed to access your criminal record if you apply for
a job there. Most of these companies have strict policies that prevent
hiring someone who is a convicted felon, including someone charged with
a DWI felony.
So, when do DWI charges become felonies? Each state has different charges
and regulations that identify the difference between a DWI misdemeanor
and felony. Here are the main differences between a DWI misdemeanor and
a DWI felony in the state of Texas:
When Is A DWI Charge A Misdemeanor?
There are a lot of different factors that can contribute to the charges,
fines and jail time of a DWI conviction. However, most first and second
offense DWI charges will result in a misdemeanor with different classifications.
For instance, a first offense DWI charge typically results in a Class
B misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of six months in jail and a fine
of up to $2,000 for a first time offender. A second offense DWI charge
typically results in Class A misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of
up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 for a second time offender.
When Is A DWI Charge A Felony?
There are several different instances in which your DWI charge may result
in a felony conviction. In the state of Texas, if you have previously
been convicted of a DWI two times before, then your third DWI arrest can
be charged as a third-degree felony.
Intoxication assault-a non-fatal accident in which someone is seriously
hurt or disfigured by a drunk driver-is also considered a third-degree
felony no matter if it is your first or third DWI. Intoxication manslaughter-an
accident in which someone is killed by a drunk driver-may result in a
However, the different charges and restrictions that come along with a
felony punishment in Texas can be very complex and confusing. This is
why it is absolutely essential that you
consult with an experienced DWI lawyer to discuss the specifics and the details of your drunk driving arrest.
Just because you may have been arrested for driving while intoxicated
does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted for a DWI misdemeanor
or felony. A DWI lawyer can help to determine the best way to handle your
case and avoid any serious charges that may have an effect on your future.