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Is a Texas DWI charge a misdemeanor or felony offense?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Drunk Driving

There are a variety of different traffic violations that could lead to a ticket or possibly someone’s arrest. In Texas, police officers actively monitor traffic for signs of illegal and unsafe behavior.

When an officer believes that someone has driven while drunk, they may arrest that motorist. Texas prosecutors can then pursue driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges against that driver. Someone arrested based on a presumption of impairment at the wheel might expect to face misdemeanor charges. However, it is standard procedure for prosecutors to file the most severe charges possible against defendants.

Is it possible for the state to charge someone with a felony over a drunk driving offense?

Yes, DWIs can be felonies

A basic, first-time drunk driving charge is typically a misdemeanor offense. Someone arrested because they failed a breath test or swerved over the center line might face misdemeanor charges alleging that they technically violated state law. Those who have repeatedly broken drunk driving statutes and those involved in crashes might face more serious charges and criminal penalties. The law in Texas allows prosecutors to bring felony DWI charges in a number of specific scenarios.

The first involves multiple repeat offenses. A driver with at least two prior DWI convictions on their record might face a felony charge after their third arrest. Prosecutors could also bring felony charges related to child endangerment if someone gets arrested for a DWI with the passenger in their vehicle who is 14 years old or younger. Finally, the state can pursue felony charges in scenarios where an alleged impaired driving incident led to injury or death. Vehicular homicide and vehicular assault are both felony charges that carry more serious penalties than a basic, first-time DWI charge.

Someone facing charges in a situation involving certain aggravating factors may want to fight their charges because of the enhanced penalties and more serious criminal record possible if they plead guilty. Those facing even a first-time DWI charge may see the value in defending against those allegations to ensure that they don’t face felony DWI charges in the future.

Understanding what influences the charges and penalties possible in a Texas DWI case can be beneficial for drivers recently arrested. Motorists who understand what might lead to more severe penalties are in a decent position to potentially avoid the worst possible consequences in the wake of a recent arrest.