Houston has quite a reputation of a party town. Unfortunately, this non-stop partying attributed to 1,492 DUI-related crashes in 2016. Those lucky to avoid crashes are met with tough justice having them wonder… is a DUI a felony?
The short answer: It depends.
Let’s use this article to explain the factors and your options with a DUI charge.
Is A DUI A Felony? The Determining Factors
The Texas Traffic Code has specific thresholds for DUI and DWI.
- DUI – Driving Under the Influence
- DWI – Driving While Intoxicated
Minors under 21 with any alcohol in their system face a DUI charge if their BAC (blood alcohol level) is under .08. Those with a BAC over .08 face DWI charges.
Texas has a zero-tolerance policy with DUI & DWI offenses. The state determines penalties by first, second, and third offenses.
When asking “Is a DUI a felony?”, think 3 strikes.
- 1st offense – Class B misdemeanor
- 2nd offense – Class A misdemeanor
- 3rd offense – 3rd-degree felony
This is where it gets tricky:
Several factors including open containers, recklessness, and harm increase the charge severity. Driving while intoxicated with a child under 15, for example, makes it an automatic felony. Assault or manslaughter with the vehicle results in felony charges, too.
Commercial drivers have specific laws. A BAC of .04 and over face similar charges. But, also lose their CDL license for 1-3 years (depending on their haul).
The Consequences Of Drunk Driving
Many problems occur when you react without guidance:
From denying consent for testing and failing to request a hearing within 15-days. Or, failing to complete educational/intervention programs.
Fines & Hard Time
$2,000-$10,000 in fines depending on severity and 180-days to 10-years in jail or prison.
A mandated, base 160-hours up to 600-hours.
An ignition interlock device to monitor usage and prevent misuse.
Charges (especially felony charges) appear on your permanent record.
When To Talk With A DWI Attorney
Houston police are not infallible nor is the Texas justice system. There are several instances where your rights were abused. Or, you were wrongfully targeted.
- Did the officer have probable cause?
- Were you read your rights?
- Were you detained for an unnecessary amount of time without reason?
- Does my public defender have my best interest?
- Did I pass the chemical test after failing the field test?
- Was the testing equipment clean and calibrated?
These are questions to ask your attorney. Their answer(s) may reveal whether your charges hold up in court. And, whether the occurrence becomes a felony.
Let Vinas & Graham, PLLC Fight For Your Rights
The looming weight of a felony conviction is unbearable. But, you’re not alone.
A felony charge can happen with your first-time offense. This offense may have been the result of improper processing. Or, perhaps you accept fault but show remorse for your actions.
We all make mistakes but they shouldn’t always dictate our lives. Get in touch to find your DUI representation. We’ll fight for you.