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Drunk driving in Texas: A felony or misdemeanor?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Criminal offenses are broadly categorized as either felonies or misdemeanors, with each classification carrying distinct legal consequences if convicted. Generally, a felony is a more serious offense than a misdemeanor, and a conviction carries significantly harsher penalties. For instance, you could end up in prison for more than a year and pay considerable fines if you are found guilty of a felony offense.

Whether you will face felony or misdemeanor charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas hinges on the particulars of your case, among other factors. Here is what you should know.

The aspects of your offense matter

For a first or second DWI, the charge typically remains a misdemeanor. However, a third DWI offense automatically becomes a felony. The presence of aggravating factors in your DWI can also escalate your offense to a felony, regardless of whether you are a first-time offender. They include:

  • DWI with a child passenger
  • DWI that causes serious bodily injury
  • DWI that causes death

It’s also worth noting that felonies are graded into various degrees, each carrying its own level of severity and associated penalties. The level of your offense will determine the felony degree you are likely to be charged with.

You may have legal options available to mitigate the severity of your DWI. A plea deal, for example, can potentially downgrade a felony to a misdemeanor or mitigate the associated penalties. Similarly, suppressing evidence can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case, likely leading to reduced charges.

It amplifies the need for qualified assistance as soon as possible to help you navigate this complex legal terrain with clarity and confidence, ultimately increasing your chances of securing a more favorable resolution.