Felony DWI in Texas

Most drunk driving offenses in Texas are charged as misdemeanors. However, multiple DWIs, DWI with a child passenger, or a serious injury DWI can all be charged as felonies. Felony DWI charges are much more serious and can result in serious jail time, fines, and driver's license suspension. It can also leave the driver with a felony criminal record, which can have consequences for years to come.

A felony DWI charge should not be handled lightly. Felony drunk driving charges should be handled by an experienced Texas DWI defense lawyer. If you are a driver who was arrested for a 3rd DWI, had a child passenger in the vehicle, or involved in an accident that resulted in injury, contact an Odessa, Texas felony DWI lawyer to understand your rights and how to fight the criminal charges against you.

Texas Felony DWI Laws  

A first or second DWI that does not involve injury or death is generally a misdemeanor offense. However, there are four types of felony driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses in Texas, including:

  1. Third or Subsequent DWI,
  2. DWI with a Child Passenger,
  3. Intoxication Assault, and
  4. Intoxication Manslaughter.  

Prior convictions, driving with a minor passenger, accidents resulting in serious bodily injury, and accidents resulting in death all result in enhanced penalties for a DWI.

Third DWI as a Felony   

A third DWI is a felony in Texas. The penalties for a 3rd DWI can include:

  • Two to 10 years in state prison,
  • A fine of up to $10,000,
  • License suspension up to 2 years,
  • Alcohol education program,
  • Surcharge of up to $2,000 a year to keep your license, and
  • Ignition interlock device (IID).  

What Charges are Included as a Prior Offense?

A prior offense includes more than just a prior DWI. A DWI is a felony of the 3rd degree if it is shown that the person has previously been convicted 2 times of any other offense relating to:

  • Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated,
  • Operating an aircraft while intoxicated,
  • Operating a watercraft while intoxicated, or
  • Operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated.

How Far Back Does Texas Count Prior DWIs?

Texas considers all prior DWIs, BWIs, or other similar offenses in counting the 3rd or subsequent DWI. Some states limit the look-back period to a certain number of years but Texas does not have a look-back limitation. A DWI 20-years-ago would count as a prior offense for enhanced DWI penalties in Texas.

DWI With a Child Passenger

Driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15 is another type of felony DWI. Even if the driver was not involved in an accident and the child was not injured, driving while intoxicated with a child can result in the following criminal penalties:

  • 180 days to 2 years in state jail division,
  • Fine of up to $10,000,
  • License suspension up to 2 years,
  • Alcohol education or intervention program,
  • Surcharge of up to $2,000 a year to keep your license, and
  • Ignition interlock device (IID).

DWI Involving Serious Injury - Intoxication Assault

Intoxication assault is a DWI that causes serious bodily injury to another. If an intoxicated driver causes serious bodily injury to another that:

  • Creates a substantial risk of death,
  • Causes serious permanent disfigurement, or
  • Protracted loss or impairment of a bodily function or organ.

This can involve a car accident with another vehicle, hitting a cyclist or pedestrian, or even hitting an object that injures the intoxicated driver's own passenger.

DWI Resulting in Death - Intoxication Manslaughter

Driving while intoxicated that results in the death of another is “intoxication manslaughter.” Intoxication manslaughter is a felony of the second degree. The penalties for intoxication manslaughter can include:

  • From 2 to 20 years in state prison,
  • A fine of up to $10,000,
  • License suspension up to 2 years, and
  • Surcharge of up to $2,000 a year to keep your license.

Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction  

Even after paying the price of a criminal conviction, there are consequences of a felony record that will follow an individual for years after they have been released from jail. A felony conviction in Texas can restrict:

  • Right to vote while in prison,
  • Right to serve on a jury,
  • Right to own or possess a firearm.  

A felony conviction may also make it more difficult to find a job, get housing, or apply for certain benefits or scholarships.

Odessa DWI Defense Lawyer

An experienced DWI defense attorney understands what is at stake in a felony case. If you've been charged with a felony DWI in Odessa, Texas, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is here to fight for you.

E. Jason Leach is a board-certified criminal defense attorney that has dedicated his law practice to defending the accused. To set up a free consultation contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.