The month of August was a busy one for the Houston Police Department. In all, Houston PD arrested 54 drivers on felony charges related to alcohol. At nearly two felony DWI arrests per day, this number may seem high. However, the number of felony arrests fell compared to August of last year.
The vast majority of the DWI felony arrests were for third-offense DWI charges. However, ten of the 54 drivers were charged with DWI with a child passenger. Additionally, one person was charged with intoxicated manslaughter. Those arrested came from all walks of life, representing a broad spectrum of races and genders.
Alcohol-Related Felonies in Texas
For the most part, those charged with DWIs are first-time offenders facing misdemeanor charges. It is rare in those cases for the offenders to face any additional jail time other than at the time of their arrest. However, there are four different types of alcohol-related charges that are felonies under Texas law. They are third or subsequent DWIs, DWI with a child passenger, intoxicated assault, and intoxicated manslaughter.
Third or Subsequent DWI
While a first or second offense DWI is typically a misdemeanor under the Texas Penal Code, third and subsequent DWI charges are always felonies. A third or subsequent DWI charge carries a prison sentence between two and 10 years. It also carries a maximum fine of $10,000 as well as daunting court costs and fees. A conviction also leads to a driver's license suspension for up to two years.
DWI with a Child Passenger
A case that would normally be charged as a misdemeanor can quickly become a felony if an intoxicated driver is arrested for DWI with a child passenger in their vehicle. Even a first offense DWI will be charged as a state jail felony if the intoxicated driver had a passenger under the age of 15. A conviction carries a sentence of 180 days to 2 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Intoxication assault is also known as DWI with serious bodily injury. It is a felony charge that carries between two and 10 years in prison as well as a maximum fine of $10,000. That sentence goes up to 20 years if the victim is a peace officer. A misdemeanor DWI charge can be upgraded to felony intoxicated assault if during the course of driving while intoxicated a person seriously injures or permanently disfigures another person.
If an intoxicated driver recklessly causes the death of another, they are guilty of intoxication manslaughter. This charge is specifically designed for intoxicated drivers that cause the death of another by accident or mistake while operating a motor vehicle on a public street. Intoxicated manslaughter is a felony in Texas. It carries a prison sentence between 2 and 20 years. In addition, it also carries a maximum fine of $10,000. An intoxicated driver can be charged with felony intoxicated manslaughter if they have no prior convictions for DWI.
Fighting a felony DWI in Texas can be an exhausting process, especially without an experienced, smart Board Certified DWI and criminal defense attorney representing you. Always seek legal counsel when facing charges that can severely impact the rest of your life.