There are many potential penalties that a judge could hand down in the event that someone is convicted of a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense in Texas. Most motorists charged with impaired driving face misdemeanor charges, and the penalties that a judge may apply vary depending on their prior driving record and the unique circumstances of their arrest.
However, some DWI offenses are far more serious than others and risk more significant charges as well. In specific situations, Texas prosecutors can sometimes file felony charges against someone who has been accused of a DWI offense.
Numerous scenarios may lead to felony charges
The information provided by police officers will be one important factor that helps determine the charges someone faces. Prosecutors will also look at someone’s record when deciding how to charge them after a DWI arrest.
There are a few scenarios that automatically lead to felony charges regardless of someone’s driving record. Texas prosecutors will pursue felony charges in scenarios involving:
- passengers under the age of 14 in a vehicle
- drunk driving that leads to a crash where someone gets hurt
- drunk driving that causes a fatal collision
- a very high blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
In any of those scenarios, even a first-time impaired driving offense could lead to felony charges.
For those with prior DWI convictions on their record, it might be their driving history and not the situation at the time of their arrest that leads to felony charges under Texas state law. Anyone with two or more prior DWI convictions will often face felony charges and enhanced penalties.
Every DWI defendant has unique options. There is no one solution that always works for those accused of impairment at the wheel. In some cases, there may be questions about the legality of a traffic stop. Other times, those accused of impaired driving might have a medical or dietary explanation for a failed breath test. Those who assertively defend against DWI charges after seeking legal guidance can reduce the likelihood that they will face significant penalties as a result of their alleged wrongdoing.