In most cases, a first-time driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense is a class B misdemeanor. Certain DWI crimes can result in felony DWI charges, however, and the enhanced charges are not limited solely to alleged repeat offenders.
It is important to understand that Texas does not have the “lookback period” used by other states to limit the applicability of prior DWI convictions, so a person who has been previously arrested for DWI will have their prior convictions used against them even if the arrests are several decades old. Felony charges carry far greater penalties than misdemeanors, and the effects become even more damaging when you consider the impact the conviction has on a person’s criminal record.
Felony DWI Attorney Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX
Were you or your loved one arrested for any kind of felony DWI in Fort Worth? Do not wait to try and retain legal counsel.
Felony DWI Charges in Tarrant County
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 is the state law establishing that a person commits DWI if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. The crime is classified as a felony in the following circumstances:
- Intoxication Manslaughter — Under Texas Penal Code § 49.08, it is a second-degree felony if an alleged offender operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride, and is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake. Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b-2) establishes that intoxication manslaughter is a first-degree felony if the alleged offender causes the death of a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty.
- Intoxication Assault — It is a third-degree felony under Texas Penal Code § 49.07 when an alleged offender—by accident or mistake—while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated, or while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another, or as a result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated causes serious bodily injury to another. Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b-1) establishes that intoxication assault is a second-degree felony if the alleged offender causes serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty.
- DWI with a Child Passenger — Texas Penal Code § 49.045 states that it is a state jail felony if an alleged offender is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place and the vehicle being operated by the alleged offender is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age.
- Repeat DWI Convictions — Under Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b), a DWI, flying while intoxicated (FWI), boating while intoxicated (BWI), or assembling or operating an amusement ride while the intoxicated offense is a third-degree felony if the alleged offender has been previously convicted either one time of intoxication manslaughter or two times of any other offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, operating an aircraft while intoxicated, operating a watercraft while intoxicated, or operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated.
Felony DWI Penalties in Texas
Felony DWI penalties involve much more serious possible sentences for convictions than misdemeanor offenses. Depending on how your crime is classified, you could face the following penalties:
- State Jail Felony — Fine of up to $10,000 and/or up-to two years in state jail
- Third-Degree Felony — Fine of up to $10,000 and/or up-to 10 years in prison
- Second-Degree Felony — Fine of up to $10,000 and/or up-to 20 years in prison
- First-Degree Felony — Fine of up to $10,000 and/or up-to 99 years or life in prison
A felony DWI conviction can also result in a lengthy driver’s license suspension as well as a requirement to pay mandatory annual surcharges to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for three years when a license is reinstated. Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on all vehicles owned and/or operated by the alleged offender, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and/or mandatory attendance at a felony DUI school could also be required.
Felony DWI Defenses in Fort Worth
You are going to want to examine every possible defense option available to you when you are facing felony charges. In many cases, the strongest defenses concern how well law enforcement complied with the requirements needed in DWI cases.
You may be able to get the criminal charges thrown out if your original traffic stop was unlawful. It is also possible that the equipment you were tested on was not properly maintained, making all test results invalid.
Fort Worth Felony DWI Resources
District Clerk | Tarrant County, Texas — The Tarrant County District Clerk manages most of the business operations for the 27 District Courts in Tarrant County that hear felony criminal cases. The district clerk files and maintains all indictments handed down from the grand jury and also enters data and processes all documents referencing individual cases. Use this website to learn more about the Criminal Section.
Offender Education Programs | Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) | Texas.gov — Under Article 42.12, Section 13(j) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, persons convicted of subsequent DWI offenses to attend a program for “repeat offenders” approved by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA). Use this website to view education programs in Texas. Learn more about DWI education, DWI intervention, and alcohol education for minors.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Felony DWI | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you or your loved one were arrested for a felony DWI offense in Fort Worth or a surrounding area of Tarrant County, you need to take the criminal charges very seriously. Prosecutors are seeking maximum sentences in these cases and you will want to have an attorney to hopefully avoid the worst possible punishments.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can take an aggressive approach to protect your rights. We will answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to take advantage of a consultation.