Misdemeanor DWI vs. Felony DWI: Understanding the Difference

People in the Austin area in search of an experienced and skilled DWI defense attorney can trust in the team at The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler, P.C. We have provided legal counsel to countless individuals in both misdemeanor DWI cases and felony DWI cases.

Let's take a moment right now to establish the difference between these kinds of DWI charges.

About Misdemeanor DWI in Texas

Most first offense DWI and second offense DWI arrests are classified as misdemeanors so long as no one was injured as a result of the drunk driver's actions and so long as there were no minors in the vehicle during the drunk driving arrest.

Penalties for Misdemeanor DWI in Texas

For first offense misdemeanor DWI, the penalties are as follows:

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Jail time of at least 3 days and up to 180 days
  • Suspension of your driver's license for up to 2 years
  • Surcharges of up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your driver's license
  • Community service for at least 24 hours and up to 100 hours
  • Potential installation of an ignition interlock device

For second offense misdemeanor DWI, the penalties are as follows:

  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • Jail time of at least 1 month and up to 1 year
  • Suspension of your driver's license for up to 2 years
  • Surcharges of up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your driver's license
  • Community service for at least 80 hours and up to 200 hours
  • Potential installation of an ignition interlock device

About Felony DWI in Texas

Felony DWI covers various cases in which a drunk driver makes some additional and grievous action while driving. This includes:

  • A Third DWI Offense - Any DWI offense after the third is also considered a felony
  • Drunk Driving with a Minor in the Vehicle - This specifically means anyone 15 years old or younger
  • Intoxication Assault - The drunk driver injures another individual while behind the wheel and operating the vehicle; this is a third-degree felony
  • Intoxication Manslaughter - The drunk driver kills another individual while behind the wheel and operating the vehicle; this is a second-degree felony

Penalties for Felony DWI in Texas

Penalties for the various kinds of felony DWI charges can vary.

For a third offense DWI, the penalties are as follows:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Prison time of at least 2 years and up to 10 years
  • Suspension of your driver's license for up to 2 years
  • Surcharges of up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep your driver's license
  • Community service for at least 160 hours and up to 600 hours
  • Potential installation of an ignition interlock device

For a DWI offense with a minor present in the vehicle, the charges include:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Incarceration up to 2 years
  • Suspension of your driver's license for up to 180 days

For an intoxication assault, the charges include:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Prison time of at least 2 years and up to 10 years
  • Community service for at least 160 hours and up to 600 hours

For an intoxication manslaughter, the charges include:

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Prison time of at least 2 years and up to 20 years
  • Community service for at least 240 hours and up to 800 hours

For more information about your legal rights and options following a drunk driving arrest, it's important that you contact a skilled misdemeanor and felony DWI defense attorney today. At The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler, P.C., we will go over these matters in full detail with you so that you understand all of your legal options in greater detail.

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