When you are facing your third (or more) DWI charge, the possible penalties are very severe. Your freedom and future are on the line as you are looking at the potential of becoming a convicted felon and/or going to prison. A felony DWI arrest does not mean you will get convicted, and now is the time to be proactive in defending yourself. That starts by hiring a lawyer who will be dedicated to not only perfecting your defense, but to advise you on what to do while your case is pending.
By hiring The Wilder Firm, you will be putting our more than 25 years of experience and dedication to work for you. We will meticulously review all facets of your case while perfecting the most effective defense for your situation. We will advise you on a course of action you should take to help us put you in the best possible position going forward. It is imperative to contact our office as soon as possible. Call The Wilder Law Firm immediately at 214-741-4000 and let us fight for you.
What is a Felony DWI?
There are a few common situations in which a DWI is charged as a felony under Texas Penal Code 49.09. They include:
- A Third or More DWI Charge.
- DWI with a Child.
- Intoxication Assault.
- Intoxication Manslaughter.
We Know How to Defend You
With over 25 years practicing criminal law, we have fought felony DWI cases and we know how to defend them. There are many options available for a felony DWI defense, and we will explore all of them to find the best fit for your situation. Here are just a few ways we will establish your defense:
- Legality of the stop
- What is normal.
- Sobriety testing
- Chemical testing
- Police conduct.
- Better safe than sorry, it’s their third or more
- Validity of priors used for felony enhance
Legality of the Stop
The police have to have a legal basis to contact you or pull you over. Pulling out of a bar at 12:30 in the morning may get their attention, but that alone does not justify pulling you over. Have you ever been given a ticket for a traffic violation you did not commit? At times, officers make mistakes in how they view potential traffic violations when pulling people over. Whether accidental or intentional, a bad stop is a bad stop, regardless if you are intoxicated or not. I have won cases where officers claimed my client was following too closely, had a license plate light out, had a headlight out, stopped past the stop line at a red light, or failed to maintain a single lane of traffic, only for my investigation to prove such conduct did not occur.
What is Normal
How normal would you expect someone to act if they were pulled over after having a few drinks and then investigated for felony DWI? This can be one of the most stressful situations and how people respond to this will all be different. What is normal for you most likely will not be what is normal for me, but the police will hold us to the same standard. They have a strict expectation of how everyone should act and perform on sobriety tests when being investigated for DWI, and anything less than perfection will be held against you.
There are many issues surrounding sobriety testing that can affect how valid their results are. The police are trained that sobriety tests only identify impairment and do not identify sobriety. If a test only identifies impairment, then you must perform that test 100% perfectly in order for it not to be held against you. This means that any difficulty due to not being naturally coordinated will be taken as a sign of impairment. Any difficulty naturally caused by age, the weather, wind, road surface, traffic, or just being freaked out will be taken as a sign of impairment.
When it comes to sobriety testing, you need to understand you are really being tested for your coordination in an extremely stressful situation when you know you have your future on the line. It is this type of environment that can make perfection very difficult to obtain, yet you are acting normal for the circumstances.
When a chemical test is completed, the alleged alcohol concentration is printed on a sheet of paper (i.e. lab report), but that printout does not tell the whole story of how that number got there. The printout does not indicate if the sample tested was legally obtained. The printout does not indicate if the chemist who tested the sample followed all of the proper procedures and protocols. I never just rely on the printed number. I investigate everything to determine how valid or reliable the results are so you are not affected by unreliable numbers.
The competency and professionalism (or lack thereof) of the police officers and their investigation play a role in how the evidence against you will be viewed. An officer who leaves a bad impression, either by being arrogant and cocky or just by not conducting a competent investigation will affect how a Judge or Jury will perceive the evidence. The worse the perception, the more defendable your case becomes. I know how the police are to conduct themselves and an investigation, and any deviations will be thoroughly discussed with you and how that affects the State’s case.
Better Safe Than Sorry, It’s Their Third or More
When the police stop you, they will check your criminal history to see if you have any prior DWI convictions. When two or more pop up, that fact alone will make it difficult for the officer to let you go. They only need probably cause to arrest you, and that is not very much evidence at all. You could show signs of intoxication on all the sobriety tests yet still pass them and be arrested on “probable cause.” The officer will be giving their opinion as to your intoxication, and not all opinions are good or valid.
Validity of Priors Used to Enhance to a Felony
To be considered a felony DWI, a person must have two prior DWI convictions. We will investigate the prior convictions and their judgments to make sure there is sufficient information in them to prove it was actually you who was convicted. We look at all the identifying information (or lack thereof) and quality of the fingerprint to determine if the State can prove it was you. Additionally, if there are any priors from other states, we have to make sure that prior would actually be a DWI in the State of Texas. If any prior would not amount to a DWI in Texas, it cannot be used to enhance your DWI to a felony. This requires attention to detail.
At The Wilder Law Firm, we pay attention to detail in defending our clients. Perfecting a defense takes time, and we dedicate our time to our clients to ensure everything is done to develop the most effective defense possible.
Felony DWI Penalties
Felony DWI is related to a third DWI charge. The penalties for these include:
- A prison sentence to last 2-10 years.
- A fine of as much as $10,000.
A felony DWI resulting from a DWI resulting in serious bodily injury or death carries greater penalties, which include:
- A prison sentence of 2-20 years.
- A fine of as much as $10,000.
A felony DWI due to a DWI with a child passenger charge results in the following penalties:
- A jail sentence of 180 days to two years.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
Additional penalties for felony DWI include:
- A DWI on your criminal record.
- DWI education classes.
- Community service of up to 1,000 hours.
- A suspension of your driver’s license for as much as 180 days.
- An additional $1,000-$2,000 fee for three years in order to keep your driver’s license.
- After you get your license back, the installation of an ignition interlock device on the vehicle(s) you drive.
- An increase in auto insurance costs.
- A difficult time obtaining or keeping certain professional licenses.
- A difficult time obtaining or keeping certain jobs.
- Immigration issues.
- Child custody issues.
- Difficulty furthering your education.
Your Future is On the Line – Our #1 Goal is to Protect It
When you are charged with a felony DWI, you are looking at the potential of becoming a convicted felon and going to prison. It is imperative that you be proactive in your defense and hire an experienced lawyer who will take a personal interest in defending you and with the outcome of your case. When you hire The Wilder Law Firm, you will be putting a dedicated team in your corner who will invest the time and energy in defending you to ensure the best possible outcome. Contact us at 214-741-4000 for the representation you deserve.