If you are arrested and charged with any type of DWI offense in Fort Worth or the surrounding areas of Texas, the penalties can be significant including loss of your freedom, substantial fines, mandatory classes and counseling, suspension of driving privileges, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, probation a criminal record and other sentencing terms.
While all DWI convictions in Fort Worth are serious, they are not all created equal. Although most first and second offense DUI convictions are misdemeanors, those with two prior DWI convictions or those involved in motor vehicle accidents that cause serious injury or fatalities may face a felony DWI charge. The penalties and long-term consequences associated with a felony conviction for DWI in Fort Worth are far more serious including permanent bars from certain occupations, forfeiture of rights to gun ownership and voting, disqualification from certain forms of financial aid for college, discovery by future landlords and employers and other consequences that can impact your future in fundamental ways.
If you are accused of being a repeat DWI offender with two or more prior convictions for DWI, you face the prospect of a lengthy term of incarceration and other serious consequences. However, the mere fact that you have been charged with felony DWI does not mean that you will be convicted whether your felony charge stems from prior DWI convictions or a car accident that resulted in serious injury or death, an experienced Fort Worth DWI attorney can analyze the law enforcement documents, physical evidence, court files from prior cases, witness statements, appropriateness of the stop and arrest, FST testing procedure, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) blood testing results and other evidence to seek acquittal or reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor offense.
Types of Felony DWI Charges in Texas
There are a number of circumstances that may result in a felony DWI charge including a third or subsequent DWI conviction, car accident resulting in injury, vehicular manslaughter or DWI with a child passenger.
Third or Subsequent DWI Conviction: If you have previously been convicted of two DWI charges, the third offense may be charged as a felony. When seeking a conviction for felony DUI on this grounds, the prosecutor must prove the prior convictions. When fighting this type of felony DWI charge, we will both attack the factual basis for the current DWI conviction as well as put the prosecutor to his or her proof regarding establishing the prior convictions. This form of felony DWI is considered a third-degree felony. A conviction for this form of DWI will result in loss of your driver’s license for a period of between 180 days and two years.
Intoxication Assault: If you cause a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol that causes disfigurement or serious injury the prosecutor typically will charge this offense as a third-degree felony.
A third degree felony in Texas like the two forms of felony DWI above can expose you to extremely serious penalties including incarceration for a minimum of two year up to a maximum of ten years in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Corrections (prison). Felony DWI based on an individual’s status as a repeat offender or intoxication assault also entails a fine up to a maximum of $10,000 and 160 to 600 hours of community service.
Intoxication Manslaughter: When a drunk driver is involved in a collision in which someone is killed, this may constitute a second-degree felony. This is the most serious form of DWI offense carrying a prison sentence of between 2-20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The sentence may also include between 240 and 800 hours of community service.
Driving Drunk with a Minor: If you are arrested and charged for driving drunk with a minor 15-years-old or younger in your vehicle, you may face felony charges. This is a serious offense that can result in a maximum of two years of jail time and a maximum $10,000 fine. A conviction of this offense will also result in a suspension of your driver’s license for up to 180 days.
While you may still qualify for probation if you are convicted of felony, this period of probation may be as lengthy as ten years. The terms and conditions of probation may include some or all of the following: DWI classes, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, AA meetings, minimum of ten days to 180 days in Tarrant County Jail, assessments for substance abuse and alcohol, court costs/fines and community service. Depending on the facts and circumstances, you also might be required to wear a SCRAM unit (ankle monitor).
When you speak with a Fort Worth Felony DWI attorney at Fulgham Law Firm P.C., we can discuss the possibility of probation and DWI defense strategies as well as the Felony Alcohol Intervention Program (FAIP). This Tarrant County program involves an aggressive substance abuse intervention program that might permit you to shorten the duration of your probation. If you have been arrested for a felony DWI case in Fort Worth or elsewhere in Tarrant County, please call (817-886-3078) to speak to an experienced Fort Worth DWI lawyer at the Fulgham Law Firm P.C. for a free consultation.