Most DWIs are a misdemeanor. However, there are circumstances that can elevate that charge to a felony. A felony is life-changing. In other words, a first-time DWI that would normally get you fines, probation and an ignition interlock could send you to prison.
The enhanced offenses below apply to the following offenses:
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Boating while intoxicated (BWI)
- Flying while intoxicated (FWI)
- Operating or assembling an amusement ride while intoxicated
You can be charges with an enhanced offense for:
A prior conviction for any of the “while intoxicated” scenarios will increase your charge from Class B misdemeanor to Class A misdemeanor. If the current charge is your third or subsequent charge, then the classification increases to a 3rd degree felony.
BAC of 0.15 or Higher
If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .15 or more, you increase your charge from Class B misdemeanor to Class A misdemeanor.
Intoxication assault is when an intoxicated driver accidentally causes serious bodily injury to another person. In other words, an injury that causes:
- Permanent disfigurement
- Protracted loss of function for any body member or organ.
Intoxication assault will increase a misdemeanor charge to a 3rd degree felony.
Intoxication Assault on a Firefighter, EMT, Peace Officer or Judge.
If the victim is a firefighter, EMT, peace officer or judge in the actual discharge of an official duty, the penalties increase as follows according Texas Penal Code 49.07
- The charge becomes a 2nd degree felony if the victim is to a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel
- The charge becomes a 1st degree felony if the victim is a peace officer or judge
Intoxication manslaughter occurs when a DWI accidentally causes the death of another person. In this case, a misdemeanor charge will advance to a 2nd degree felony.
Intoxication Manslaughter on a Firefighter, EMT, Peace Officer or Judge.
Intoxication manslaughter can be enhanced to a felony in the first degree if the person killed served as a firefighter, EMT, peace officer or judge in the actual discharge of an official duty.
Enhanced Offense Job Definitions
A firefighter, EMT & peace officer are defined as follows:
- Peace officer – Any person elected, employed or appointed as a law enforcement officer. This includes police, sheriffs, constables, marshals, airport police, city park officers, security and rangers.
- Firefighter – Any person employed by the state who is subject to certification by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection or is a member of an organized volunteer fire-fighting unit that conducts at least two drills each month.
- EMT – Any person employed as an emergency medical technician, medical technician, or paramedic.
Avoid Enhanced Offense Charges
To avoid the penalties common with enhanced offense DWI charges, hire an experienced DWI attorney like Clyde W. Burleson. Call 713-628-1503 today and speak with him 24 hours a day / seven days a week.