When does your drunk driving charge become a serious law offense?
Getting pulled over and charged with drinking and driving often involves a lot more than a stern warning and a ticket. In fact, it is one of the most serious offenses that you can have on your record if you are arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Plus, depending on many different factors surrounding your DWI-if anyone was injured, how much alcohol you had consumed, who was in the car with you-you could even face charges beyond driving while intoxicated.
Two charges that drinking and driving often carry with them are either a DWI felony or a DWI misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is often thought as a more minor crime when compared to a felony. However, the charge could still carry with it jail time if you do not properly fight your case. A felony on the other hand is a very serious crime. It typically carries with it a year or more in a state prison, plus a large number of fines and lifestyle changes.
While most penalties for a DWI can change from state to state, many people who are arrested for a DWI in Texas will find that these charges often are considered a misdemeanor if it is your first drunk driving arrest.
What Does A DWI Misdemeanor Mean?
The act of driving a motor vehicle in a public place when seriously intoxicated (over the legal limit of .08) is enough to earn you a misdemeanor charge if you are pulled over. However, there are several types of misdemeanor charges:
Class B Misdemeanor: If it is your first time being pulled over or being faced with a drinking and driving charge, you will typically face a 1st offense Class B misdemeanor charge. This means that your fine will not typically exceed $2,000, and your confinement in jail cannot exceed more than 6 months. However, if there was also an open container of alcohol in your car during the time that you were arrested, there is a minimum term of confinement of 6 days in county jail.
Class A Misdemeanor: If it is your second (or more) time facing a drinking and driving charge, you will typically face a 2nd offense Class A misdemeanor charge. This carries with it significantly more consequences such as a large fine, jail time, community service and other terms. You may even have to install and maintain an ignition interlock device to prevent you from drinking and driving in the future.
When Does A DWI Become A Felony?
The main difference between a DWI Misdemeanor and a DWI Felony is the surrounding factors of your arrest. For instance, did you injure anyone while driving? Were you driving a commercial vehicle? Are you under the legal drinking age? These charges are significantly more difficult to fight and could lead to serious punishments and charges if you are convicted.
If you have been charged with drinking and driving and find that you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, be sure to contact The Wilder Firm today. Our team of experienced DWI lawyerscan help fight for your case and ensure that you are met with a result that is fair for you.