Generally, only your third and subsequent DWI offense results in felony charges in the state of Texas. A standard first offense DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, and a second DWI charge will escalate to a Class A misdemeanor.
However, this is not always the case. If you aren’t on your third offense, don’t simply assume you are safe from felony DWI. There are certain aggravating circumstances in the state of Texas DWI code that will escalate even a first time DWI offense to a felony. Any one of these circumstances will lead to felony DUI charges:
1). DWI with a minor – Being arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated when a minor under the age of 15 is present in the vehicle is an immediate felony charge
2). Commercial Drivers – DWI while driving a commercial vehicle, such as a tractor trailer, is a felony. License suspension can also result, especially if the tractor trailer was loaded with hazardous materials
3). If injuries or an accident occurs, you may also face felony DWI charges, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident
If you are convicted of any of these felony DWI charges, you will face serious jail time and the conviction will remain on your Texas driving record for life. There are also other penalties related to DUI in Texas, including a driver responsibility tax, which is a surcharge that you must pay for several years following your DUI conviction, on top of any fines or other financial sanctions imposed. This DWI tax ranges from $1000 to $2000 per year for a three year period.
There are also fines that are applied to the Felony DWI case at the judge’s decision. These fines start at $1,000 and can range as high as $10,000 for third and subsequent conviction, or in extreme circumstances, such as having a blood alcohol content of twice the legal limit.
If you are facing DUI charges, do not attempt to handle them on your own. Contact an experienced Fort Bend county DWI defense attorney at your earliest convenience in order to have the best chance of successfully fighting your Texas DWI charges.