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Having a Child in the Car May Elevate Your DWI to a Felony


Facing drunk driving charges is a frightening prospect, as Texas has stiff penalties for driving while intoxicated. The addition of aggravating factors can increase penalties, such as elevating the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.

According to Texas statutes, you may face driving while intoxicated charges if your blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more and you get behind the wheel.

Typical DWI Penalties

For a first DWI conviction, you may face misdemeanor charges. If you receive the maximum sentence, your sentence might include up to a year in county jail, a one-year license suspension and $6,000 in fines. Depending on the situation, you may also need an ignition interlock device on your car. Penalties increase for the second and third offenses. Your sentence could include 20 years in federal prison and up to $20,0000 in fines by the fourth offense.

If you had an accident and caused severe bodily harm or death, the misdemeanor crime typically becomes a felony.

DWIs Involving Minor Passengers

The presence of a child under the age of 15 in your vehicle increases the severity of the crime. Instead of a misdemeanor, you may face a state jail felony. The maximum fines are five times greater than a regular DWI, and the jail sentence may be up to four times greater. The state may also file child endangerment charges, which is also a felony.

A felony conviction can derail your entire life. You may not vote or own a firearm after your release. Having a felony conviction on your record can prevent you from obtaining a loan, getting the job of your dreams and living where you want. Understanding your options might help you maintain your lifestyle and avoid the most severe penalties.