Aggressive Criminal

When can Texas prosecutors pursue felony DWI charges?

On Behalf of | DUI/DWI |

Certain criminal offenses lead to felony charges, while others are classified as “lesser” misdemeanors. The severity of a charge influences what penalties the courts impose and how much impact a criminal record has on someone’s opportunities in life. Certain common criminal charges may be more serious than people initially expect.

A driving while impaired (DWI) charge in Texas is the same as a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in another state. Drivers who poorly operate their vehicles may draw attention from law enforcement professionals and could face a rest. People pulled over for other purposes who failed chemical tests might also have to deal with DWI charges. Those involved in collisions may also be subject to testing and prosecution if they fail a chemical test.

Most people arrested on accusations of impaired driving expect to face misdemeanor charges. Can Texas prosecutors ever bring felony charges because of an impaired driving offense?

Felony charges are sometimes possible

Contrary to what people often assume, the law does allow for felony charges in a few different circumstances. It is common practice for prosecutors to bring the most serious charges possible against a defendant, including felony DWI charges whenever possible. For example, if a crash occurs and someone else sustains a significant injury or dies, a driver accused of a DWI could face felony charges. Vehicular assault and vehicular homicide charges are typically felony offenses under Texas state law.

Occasionally, the reason the state pursues more serious charges is that a driver had underage passengers in the vehicle. If there are occupants in a vehicle under the age of 15, that can give the prosecutor the justification they require to pursue felony charges against a driver. Finally, those with multiple prior DWI convictions could be at risk of a felony DWI charge. It is standard procedure in Texas to prosecute third and subsequent DWI offenses as felonies. The penalties for a felony DWI are higher. Additionally, a felony conviction tends to have more of an impact on someone long after they serve their sentence.

Learning more about how Texas handles DWI cases may benefit those accused of driving after drinking. An informed response to a pending charge can make all the difference for a criminal defendant in Texas.