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Felony DWI Charges are Common in Houston

Published: Feb 03, 2017 in DUI

Being charged with driving while intoxicated is always a serious issue. At least if it is your first DWI offense, you are usually charged with a misdemeanor. Though it is tough to get through, a misdemeanor is considered less serious than a felony and once you have completed your sentence, including probation and your license suspension, you can often pick up where you left off. However, it is possible for a Texas DWI to be charged as a felony. In fact, it turns out that DWIs are regularly charged as felonies in Houston. Last August, Houston police arrested 46 drivers on felony DWI charges. In the following two months, law enforcement arrested 82 drivers for similar offenses.

If you have been charged with a felony DWI, you need an attorney who can provide you with an aggressive defense. Contact Houston DWI attorney Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to learn about your legal options.

Felony-Level DWI Charges

Under Texas law, first and second DWI charges are automatically misdemeanors. A DWI crime only rises to the felony level when it is a third or subsequent offense or there are other factors involved. Felony DWI offenses include:

  • A third or additional DWI: A third-degree felony
  • DWI with a child in the vehicle: State jail felony
  • Intoxication assault: A third-degree felony
  • Intoxication assault of a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel: A second-degree felony
  • Intoxication manslaughter: A second-degree felony
  • Intoxication manslaughter of a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel: A first-degree felony

Possible Punishments for Felony DWI Charges

The statutory punishments for felonies are serious in Texas. You will usually see the inside of a jail or prison cell, though it is possible to reduce your sentence with probation. The basic statutory penalties for felony DWI charges are:

  • State jail felony: From 180 days up to 2 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 in fine
  • Third-degree felony: Between 2 and 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
  • Second-degree felony: Imprisonment of 2 to 20 years and up to a $10,000 fine
  • First-degree felony: Between 5 and 99 years or life in prison and up to a $10,00 fine

Minimizing the Consequences of Conviction for a Felony DWI

Probation is often an option instead of a lengthy prison sentence. For instance, for a third DWI, you must serve between 10 and 180 days in jail. However, then you can be released on probation so long as you agree to follow a number of strict conditions, including:

  • Submit to random drug and alcohol testing
  • Abstain from drinking alcohol
  • Attend a DWI intervention program
  • Attend an alcohol or substance abuse treatment program
  • Complete between 160 to 600 hours of community service
  • Report to a probation officer once per month
  • Pay all of your court costs, fines, and probation fees

Probation is one of the best ways to minimize the consequences of a felony DWI conviction. While it can be difficult to work around all of the new restrictions in your life and to continue on without a license, probation provides you the opportunity to continue with school, work, and remain with your family.

Contact a Houston DWI Attorney

Felony DWI charges are common in Houston because Texas takes a harsh stance on intoxicated driving and because local prosecutors are tough on crime. However, just because you are charged with a felony DWI offense does not mean you will spend years in prison. There are ways to defend yourself against these charges, prove either your innocence or obtain the minimum statutory consequences. For more information on your legal options, call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett.

Attorney Ned Barnett has more than 3 decades of experience as a Texas prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He is highly skilled in representing clients with DWI cases. He has certifications in DWI field sobriety testing, the operation of breath test machines, and the gas chromatography process that is used for blood tests. Barnett also has a proven track record of obtaining positive results for his clients.

Call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.