Many felonies in Texas hold harsher punishments than misdemeanors, and a DWI is no exception. That said, this crime does not always result in a felony. Though you may have wondered for years when a DWI would turn into a felony, it’s not as simple as it sounds. In this article, we’ll explore the factors determining whether a DWI would be a felony or a misdemeanor in Texas.
Presence of a Child Passenger
If a police officer pulls you over and finds a child younger than 15 in the car, your DWI could be bumped to a third-degree felony. This is true even if the child was not a passenger when you got behind the wheel. The age limit is 15 for a DWI misdemeanor and just ten years old for a felony DWI.
The presence of prior offenses will also impact the classification of your DWI. For example, if you have had any DWIs within the past ten years in Texas, even if they all occurred in another state, your Texas DWI will be a third-degree felony. This rule also applies to DWIs in which you were found guilty, even if they did not result in a jail sentence. However, if you have multiple DWIs that occurred within ten years, they can be treated as separate offenses.
Amount of Alcohol in Your System
The amount of alcohol found in your system could affect the classification of a DWI. For instance, If a breath or blood test shows that you have a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, expect to be charged with DWI. On the other hand, if your blood alcohol level is 0.25 percent or higher, you could be charged with a second-degree felony. Drug possession can also predispose one to the legal sword.
Death of Another Person
If another person loses their life in the crash or hit and run that resulted from your DWI, you could be looking at a first-degree felony. This is true even if you didn’t intend to cause harm. In some cases, the death of another person can result in a DWI charge being postponed to a second-degree felony.
Severity of the Offense
The severity of the crime also has an impact on whether your DWI will turn into a felony. For instance, if your DWI results in serious bodily injury to another person, it will be charged as a first-degree felony. If another person suffers serious bodily injury in the crash, you could look at aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The Bottom Line
A DWI can turn into a felony in Texas. However, several factors determine whether this will happen. If you’re facing charges for DWI, it’s important to know the potential punishments for each charge. Contact a Texas criminal defense lawyer to learn more about your case.