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What You Should Know about a Felony DWI in Plano, TX

Most DWI arrests are misdemeanor arrests. There are times in Texas, however, when a DWI can turn into a felony charge. A felony is significant because a conviction can lead to serious incarceration at a prison and steep fines, among other penalties. 

If you have been arrested for a felony DWI in Plano, Texas, the first thing to keep in mind is the charge can be challenged. With an attorney who forces the prosecutor, judge, and jury to uphold the principle that you are innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, you stand a good chance of a positive outcome.

Each case is different, as you well know, and that's why Carl Ceder, a DWI defense attorney in Plano, Texas, investigates each felony DWI case and puts forth a strong, aggressive defense strategy unique to your circumstances. The one common thread in all the cases he takes, however, is this: he will challenge the State's evidence using all his resources and fight for your rights. Contact his office today at 469-900-0000 to learn more.

What Makes a DWI a Felony in Texas and What are the Consequences?

A DWI charge becomes a felony when certain circumstances are present during the DWI arrest. These circumstances are:

  • having two prior DWI convictions;
  • having a minor child in the vehicle you were operating while intoxicated;
  • causing serious bodily injury to another person; or
  • causing fatal injuries to another person. 

The consequences of a felony DWI are severe. A conviction can lead to many years in prison, steep fines, among other penalties in accordance with the sentencing order. Aside from the sentence, however, you face what we call collateral consequences. These are consequences that impact your life well after you have paid your so-called debt to society. Collateral consequences include things like:

  • having problems finding a job;
  • losing a professional license;
  • getting declined for loans; and, among other collateral consequences,
  • difficulty securing safe housing. 

Below is a brief description of the different felony DWIs or felony DWI-related offenses and the penalties associated with each.

Third of Subsequent DWI

If you have two prior DWI convictions, then a third or subsequent DWI is typically charged as a felony DWI. Even if you were charged with a DWI but then placed on deferred adjudication community supervision, that DWI also counts as a prior DWI conviction.

Further, no loopback rule applies, so even if the two DWI convictions occurred ten years ago, it doesn't matter – they still count against you.

According to Tex. Penal Code § 49.09, a third or subsequent DWI is a felony of the third degree carrying the following penalties:

  • two to 10 years in prison; and 
  • a fine of up to $10,000.

DWI with Child Passenger

Section 49.045 of the Penal Code makes driving while intoxicate a state jail felony if in the car you also have a child passenger who is aged 15 years old or younger.

The statutory penalties associated with this conviction include:

  • 180 days to two years is state jail; and
  • a fine of up to $10,000.

Intoxication Assault

Section 49.07 of the Penal Code makes it a felony of the third degree when a person drives while intoxicated, and by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another person. The injury could have been caused by accident or mistake.

Serious bodily injury refers an

injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

A conviction of intoxication assault in Texas typically carries the following penalties:

  • two to 10 years in prison; and
  • a fine of up to $10,000.

Intoxication assault, however, can be a felony in the second degree when

the person caused serious bodily injury to a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty

or

the person caused serious bodily injury to another in the nature of a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state.

It can also be a felony in the first degree when

the person caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer or judge while the officer or judge was in the actual discharge of an official duty.

Intoxication Manslaughter

Section 49.08 of the Penal Code makes it a felony in the second degree when a person drives while intoxicated, and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another person. The death could have been caused by accident or mistake.

A conviction of intoxication manslaughter in Texas carries the following penalties:

  • between two and 20 years in prison; and
  • a fine of up to $10,000.

Intoxication manslaughter could be charged as a felony in the first degree when a person causes the death of:

  • an emergency medical services personnel
  • firefighter
  • peace office
  • judge.

First degree penalties are punishable by:

  • life imprisonment or five to 99 years imprisonment; and
  • a fine of up to $10,000.

Can you defend against a felony DWI in Texas?

You can defend against a felony DWI in Texas. First, the prosecutor must prove all the elements of the DWI or DWI-related offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Carl Ceder, an aggressive DWI attorney in Plano, Texas, will challenge the States each step of the way. Second, there are means to successfully challenge the possible evidence.

  • You can challenge the results, accuracy, or reliability of the breath test. Breathalyzers are notoriously unreliable and produce inaccurate results for many reasons, from poorly maintained equipment to interference with breath samples.
  • You can challenge the results, accuracy, or reliability of blood tests, too. Though these tend to be more accurate, mistakes are often made in the handling of the blood sample. Many other reasons can lead to inaccurate results, too, from fermentation in the vial to coagulation problems to errors in the collection or transfer of the sample.
  • Field sobriety tests can be challenged because they are often administered improperly. But also, the tests simply are not scientific and multiple physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the alleged DWI suspect could have interfered with the testing and could be the cause of a failed test.

There are other ways to challenge the evidence, too. If you were improperly pulled over or improperly arrested, evidence flowing from these constitutional violations can be suppressed. Likewise, a warrant for a blood sample must have been obtained and administered properly or else, again, any evidence flowing from a violation can lead to evidence suppression.

Also, if you didn't cause the accident that led to a person's injury or death, then you can't be guilty of intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter. 

Contact an Aggressive, Smart Felony DWI Defense Attorney in Plano, TX

If you face a felony DWI in Texas, it's a serious matter. With the help of an aggressive, smart DWI defense attorney, however, you stand a good chance at getting the best outcome for you. This could mean a dismissal of the charges, acquittal at trial, or in some cases, a plea deal that benefits you more than harms you. Contact DWI defense attorney Carl Ceder online or at 469-900-0000 to learn more.

Contact Us Today!

Carl David Ceder Attorney at Law
701 E 15th St, Suite 101
Plano, TX 75074
469-900-0000

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