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Is DWI a Felony?


If you’re a resident of Denton County or anywhere else in Texas, you’re aware of the fact that Texas is known for being tough on crime, so why should driving while intoxicated (DWI) be any different? If you’re facing DWI charges for the first time in your life, you may be wondering if DWI is a felony under the Texas Penal Code.

In all states, including Texas, DWI can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. So, while most first DWIs in Texas are charged as misdemeanors, that’s not guaranteed.

Generally, a first DWI can be elevated to a felony when one of the following occurs: 1) you seriously injure someone else while driving under the influence, or 2) you take someone else’s life while drunk or drugged driving.

Three Ways DWI is a Felony in Texas

Aside from seriously injuring or killing another person while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or both, multiple DWI convictions can lead to felony charges as well. Here are the three ways DWI is charged as a felony in Texas:

  1. The impaired driver causes serious bodily injury to another human being, such as a passenger, driver or passenger in another vehicle, or a pedestrian. This is known as intoxication assault.
  2. The impaired driver kills another person as a direct result of driving under the influence. This offense is called intoxication manslaughter.
  3. It is the impaired driver’s third or subsequent DWI conviction.

Under Section 49.07 of the Texas Penal Code, intoxication assault is a felony of the third degree, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and by a $10,000 fine.

Under Section 49.08 of the Penal Code, intoxication manslaughter is a felony of the second degree, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and by a $10,000 fine.

A third felony DWI is punishable by a $10,000 fine, between 2 and 10 years in prison, up to a two-year license suspension, and an annual fee up to $2,000 for three years to retain a driver license.

Related: Do I Have to List a DWI on Job Applications?

Are you or someone you love facing felony DWI charges? If so, contact us at once to meet with a Denton DWI attorney for free.

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