Driving while intoxicated, or DWI for short, is a serious offense in Texas. Despite the safeguards in place, sometimes people do make mistakes. If you are pulled over for a DWI, it is important to know what consequences you are facing and if that would go on your permanent record. More importantly, it is good to know what classifies as a felony DWI and what doesn’t.
Can a DWI be a Felony in the State of Texas?
The short answer is yes. However, it is not really that simple. In fact, your first offense typically will not result in a felony. However, this depends on your specific circumstances. If you get a first offense conviction with a less than .15 blood alcohol level, or BAC, then it is a class B misdemeanor. Along with this you also can be fined up to $2,000 and/or be given a jail sentence of 3 days all the way up to 180 days. Additionally, your driver's license could be suspended depending on the circumstances of your DWI. If your BAC or (blood alcohol concentration) is .15 or more, the fine can be up to $4,000 and the possible jail time can increase to one year. You will also be given a class A misdemeanor for the higher BAC. If your BAC is between .08 and .14, (and you’re a first time offender) then you can apply for a non-disclosure two years after your probation is over. In order to limit the waiting period to receive a non-disclosure, you will have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle and keep it active for 6 months. This non-disclosure will restrict who can see your criminal record.
What Happens with Your Second Offense?
With the second offense, the maximum fine increases to $4,000, just like if your BAC is higher than .15 in your first offense. The minimum jail time is 30 days with a maximum sentence of one year. Your driver's license can also be suspended anywhere from 180 days to 2 years. This would be a considered a class A misdemeanor in Texas.
What Happens with Your Third Offense?
Your third offense is the one where things get messier. This is because with a third offense, you will have a 3rd degree felony. You can be fined up to $10,000 with an additional possibility of 2 to 10 years in a state prison, (as opposed to the county jail). Your driver's license can also be suspended anywhere from 180 days to 2 years. Once you have a felony on your record, you can no longer vote or possess a firearm.
If you are facing DWI charges, the right attorney can make all the difference. Don’t take chances with your rights and freedom. Be sure to contact us here at Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC and speak to one of our knowledgeable, experienced DWI attorneys.