Felony DWI in Fort Bend County, Texas

In the state of Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) refers to the operation of a motor vehicle in a public place following the consumption of drugs and/or alcohol. A DWI becomes a felony if certain conditions are met. If you’ve been arrested on a Felony DWI charge in Fort Bend County, you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

What Constitutes a Felony Charge?

Section 49 of the Texas Penal Code specifies several situations in which a DWI is considered a felony.

I. Third Offense

  • Under Texas law, you can be charged with Felony DWI if you have at least two previous DWI convictions. If the court believes that you have a serious problem with alcohol, they may also choose to charge you with Felony DWI for a second offense if you represent a serious threat to yourself or others.

II. Harm to Others

  • You may also be charged with Felony DWI if you cause serious bodily injury or death to someone else as a result of driving while intoxicated. Prosecutors may also choose to seek an additional charge of intoxication assault or second-degree manslaughter, depending on the nature of the accident and the extent of the injuries to the victims.

III. Minor Passengers

  • A DWI charge also becomes a felony if a child under the age of 15 is present in your vehicle at the time you’re arrested.

What Are the Penalties for Felony DWI in Texas?

A conviction for felony DWI carries much stiffer penalties than a conviction for a first or second offense. According to the Texas Penal Code, individuals who have been convicted of a third-degree felony stemming from a DWI are subject to:

  • Jail Time – Depending on the facts of your case, you may face between two and ten years incarceration in the state prison system if convicted of a felony DWI.
  • Fine – A felony DWI conviction also carries a fine of up to $10,000.
  • License Suspension – The Texas Department of Public Safety may choose to suspend your driver’s license for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of two years.
  • Community Service - You may also be required to perform community service as a condition of your sentencing. Under Texas law, you can receive between 160 and 600 hours for a third-degree felony DWI.
  • Ignition Interlock Device – Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have to have your vehicle fitted with an ignition interlock device. This device requires you to submit a breath sample before the vehicle will start.
  • Rehabilitation – In addition to these penalties, you may also be required to under drug/alcohol counseling or rehabilitation treatment either during your incarceration or following your release.

The penalties for Intoxication Assault are the same as listed above. Texas law does not prescribe any increased sanctions for DWI convictions beyond the third offense. Typically, a fourth or subsequent DWI conviction would carry the maximum imprisonment term without parole.

If you face an additional charge of Intoxication Manslaughter stemming from a DWI, the penalties are much more severe. Under Texas law, Intoxication Manslaughter is classified as a second-degree felony and if convicted, you could face the following:

  • Incarceration – Texas law allows an individual convicted of Intoxicated Manslaughter to receive a sentence of 2 to 20 years imprisonment in the state prison system.
  • Fine – You may be assessed a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Community Service – Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be sentenced to anywhere from 240 to 800 hours of community service.

The penalties listed above do not include the civil penalties you may face stemming from a Felony DWI. Under Texas law, if you cause serious injury or death to someone else through carelessness, recklessness or negligence, you may be held financially liable for their injuries. The victim and/or their family may choose to seek damages against you in civil court through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

What If I’m Arrested for DWI?

If you’re arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI), law enforcement officials may ask you to submit to a field sobriety test, urine test, breath test or blood test to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol.

Under Texas law, if you hold a valid driver’s license, you are considered to have automatically consented to a breath, blood or urine test. However, if you’re arrested for DWI, you have the right to refuse these tests but you must keep in mind the consequences of doing so.

  • If you refuse drug or alcohol testing, the Texas Department of Public Safety may automatically suspend your driver’s license. Your Fort Bend County Felony DWI attorney may request an ALR hearing to fight the suspension. Note: You must request the hearing within 15 days in order to protect your rights.
  • Refusing blood, breath or urine testing may also be used against you at trial. The jury could interpret your refusal as an admission of guilt.

Note: A blood test is mandatory if you were arrested on suspicion of DWI following an accident where someone else was seriously injured or killed.

How Can I Protect My Rights if I’m Charged With Felony DWI?

Felony DWI is a serious charge and a conviction can drastically alter your life. If you’ve been arrested or charged with Felony DWI in the Fort Bend County area, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified Texas criminal defense attorney immediately.

At the law office of Lee D. Cox, we pride ourselves on aggressively defending our clients who are facing Felony DWI charges. Lee understands that felony conviction can for DWI charges can haunt you long after your sentence is compete. A criminal record can make it more difficult for you to find gainful employment, provide for the needs of your family and establish yourself as a productive member of your community.

If you’re facing a conviction for Felony DWI, you need to contact the law office of Lee D. Cox today to discuss your case. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the legal process and Lee will work hard to eliminate or reduce the charges against you or negotiate a lesser sentence in cases where conviction appears likely.

Call 281-762-7345 now to find out how we can help. We offer a free initial case evaluation and flexible payment plans. You can’t afford to wait any longer to get the legal representation you need to win your Fort Bend County Felony DWI case.

20+ Years of Experience in Criminal Defense

I began my career with the District Attorney's office and have been in private practice focusing on criminal defense in Fort Bend and surrounding counties since 2002.

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