Some people inaccurately believe that misdemeanor criminal charges don’t really matter. This can lead them to have a flippant attitude toward violating the law, especially if they believe they will face misdemeanor charges. Individuals who live in Texas may be under the false impression that any offense related to driving under the influence (DUI) will result in misdemeanor charges.
However, this simply is not the case. There are a number of different circumstances in which a driver charged with a DUI in Texas could actually find themselves facing felony charges rather than a misdemeanor. This can mean more severe penalties after a conviction or a guilty plea, as well as a more serious criminal record that could impact your ability to secure housing or a decent job in the future.
Knowing these complicating and aggravating factors can help you make better decisions behind the wheel. It can also help you decide when you need to take aggressive action with pending criminal charges.
Repeat offenders could find themselves facing felony charges
While it is true that standard DUI offenses bring misdemeanor charges, that is only true of early or initial charges. Those accused of repeatedly violating the impaired driving statutes in Texas could find themselves facing felony charges instead. Specifically, Texas begins charging people with felony DUIs after three DUI arrests. If you have two or more previous DUI convictions on your criminal record, the state of Texas will likely seek felony charges against you this time.
Impaired driving with a minor can result in a felony, too
Sometimes, the bad decisions you make don’t just affect you. When you choose to drive impaired with a minor child in the car, you endanger a child who doesn’t have the legal ability or authority to extricate themselves from the situation.
In order to deter parents from willfully endangering their child, the state of Texas considers driving intoxicated with a child in the car an aggravated form of DUI. Any child under the age of 15 in a vehicle during a DUI arrest will impact the charges that the officers bring against you.
Injuries or fatalities typically leads to felony charges as well
If you cause a crash that claimed the life of someone else or leaves anyone injured, the state of Texas may level felony charges against you. In fact, they may even apply felony charges to a scenario with substantial property damage, even if no one winds up injured.
Anyone facing felony charges with potential aggravating factors absolutely requires legal assistance. Failing to take the pending charges seriously could mean living with a felony conviction on your record for the rest of your life.