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Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is always a serious situation and involves serious penalties, but in most cases, the result is a misdemeanor charge. These are relatively less serious than felonies, and they may allow the individual to get by with a relatively minor punishment they can recover from in a relatively short period of time.

This isn’t always the case, though. Sometimes, a DUI or DWI can turn into a felony charge, and that brings with it far more serious potential costs. In particular, a felony charge for this crime carries with it a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 180 days. The sentence can include up to two years in prison and $10,000 in fines. These charges can completely destroy a previously successful and happy life.

In other words, you want to avoid this charge at all costs.

The best way to avoid this is to avoid drinking or using other substances and driving at all. Beyond that, the best thing you can do is to know more about the law in Texas so you can know if you are at risk of a felony charge if you are ever arrested on a DUI or DWI.

According to Lassiter Criminal Defense, Texas can change a misdemeanor DUI or DWI charge to a felony in all of these situations:

  • Being charged with a DUI or DWI while also driving without insurance
  • Being charged with a DUI or DWI while also driving without a license, either because no license was ever available or because a license has been suspended or revoked
  • Being charged with a DUI or DWI when you already have multiple convictions on your record
  • Being charged with a DUI or DWI when you had a minor in the vehicle with you
  • Being charged with a DUI or DWI after an accident that resulted in serious injuries or death for others
  • Being charged with a DUI or DWI in conjunction with a vehicular manslaughter charge

In all of the above situations, you will very likely face the far more serious penalties that come with a felony instead of a misdemeanor charge.

If you are arrested in one of these circumstances, the best chance you have is to find a good criminal defense lawyer that can help you fight the charges and avoid the penalties that come with a felony conviction. A lawyer can make sure you put the best possible defense forward, and they can help negotiate down charges in some circumstances.

DUIs and DWIs are an unfortunately common problem in Texas, and you should make every effort to avoid exposing yourself to the risks of an arrest in any circumstances. If that awful event does come to pass, though, you’ll need to know if you are looking at a misdemeanor or a felony so you can know what your potential penalties may be. At that point, you can find the right lawyer for your situation to avoid those difficulties.

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