Dallas DUI Attorney
Dallas DUI Attorney – DUI In Dallas: Misdemeanor Or Felony?
DUI can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. It’s important to appreciate the uniqueness of every case. DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is commonly mistaken for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), which is a more severe offense. While both terms tend to be used interchangeably, they vary.
In Dallas, Texas, DWI is more serious. Generally, DUI offenses are only applicable to minors as per Texas Traffic Code. Persons aged 21 or above can face DWI charges in Dallas and other parts of Texas if they operate a vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) equal to or greater than 0.08.
People below 21 years who drive while intoxicated face DUI offenses. A DUI is generally determined based on age and alcohol consumption. On the other hand, DWI is serious, involving high alcohol consumption and heavier penalties.
Is A DUI In Dallas A Felony Or Misdemeanor?
DUIs are generally treated as class C misdemeanors in Dallas. As per the (Texas Penal Code), a Class C misdemeanor offense attracts a fine not exceeding $500. Class C misdemeanors don’t include jail time.
Can A DUI Be Enhanced To A Felony Or Higher Misdemeanor Charge?
While DUI offenses are usually Class C misdemeanors, they can attract jail time for repeat offenders. What’s more, they can attract other penalties like probation, including community service, alcohol awareness classes, or counseling. Offenders can also have their driver’s licenses suspended or revoked.
A Class C DUI misdemeanor can be enhanced in Dallas in several ways:
First, if found to be intoxicated, and you have used other illegal drugs or substances, the charge can be enhanced. This applies mostly if you committed an offense in the process.
Second, being intoxicated and behaving in a disorderly manner in public can result in an enhancement. The same also applies to prior offenses. Individuals who are found guilty of DUI multiple times face harsher punishments.
What’s more, Class C misdemeanors with an element of bias or prejudice against another person can be enhanced. In these examples, the charges are likely to become Class B which attracts jail time and stiffer fines i.e., 180 days in jail and fines not exceeding $2,000. Let’s get into in-depth information on the enhancement of DUI misdemeanors.
Enhancement Because Of Prior Convictions
The number of times you are arrested for DUI will determine the severity of charges you will face in Texas and many other states. Generally, individuals who are arrested more time risk stiffer charges. The timeline between the arrests also matters. For instance, if you are a repeat offender over a short period of time, your charges and penalties are likely to be harsher than a repeat offender who repeats a crime after years.
Other specific circumstances will also matter. For instance, a person who is arrested for DUI in Dallas for a repeat offense while they had a suspended license is bound to face more serious charges and consequences than one who had a prior conviction, but their license wasn’t suspended. In fact, you can easily be charged with a felony for DUI if you are caught intoxicated again, yet you weren’t even supposed to be driving.
Given the uniqueness of some DUI offenses in Dallas and the resulting penalties, it’s advisable to seek the best DUI attorney you can find. The Medlin Law Firm stands out in Dallas for all DUI matters.
Enhancement Due To Death Or Bodily Harm
If you drive under influence and injure or kill someone else, you are bound to face enhanced charges. In Texas, individuals who cause accidents that kill someone else face second-degree felony charges. Such a scenario attracts a charge known as intoxication manslaughter. As per Texas Penal Code 49.08, such a conviction can attract 2-20 years in prison and fines not exceeding $10,000.
Injuring someone while driving under the influence also attracts felony charges. However, for the case to result in a conviction in both cases, it must be proven that you (the driver) caused the accident that injured or killed someone. For instance, if you were driving while intoxicated and another motorist hits you from the back and injures himself, your car, and his car, the chances of a felony charge are low, especially if you were stationary at a stop sign.
Enhancement Because Of Breaking Other Laws
As mentioned above, a DUI associated with other crimes will definitely attract higher charges. For instance, if your driver’s license has been revoked or suspended, but you still drive and get arrested, the resulting charge will be higher than a Class C misdemeanor.
Enhancement Because Of A High Blood Alcohol Concentration
The recommended BAC is 0.08. While you shouldn’t be driving in Dallas or anywhere else while under the influence, you can do so, provided your BAC remains below the legal limit. A person who is caught with a BAC of 0.09% is bound to face lesser charges and penalties than one whose BAC is above 0.09%.
Enhancement For Endangering Minors
Assuming you are intoxicated and decide to drive while carrying a child in your vehicle, your charge and eventual penalties are bound to be higher than those of a person caught driving alone. Most importantly, it doesn’t matter if you are driving with your own child. What’s more, the charges increase in severity depending on age. For instance, driving with an older child aged, say 10 years, can result in lesser penalties than when driving with a toddler.
If the charge is enhanced to a higher misdemeanor, you can face fines up to $1,000 or jail time not exceeding a year. You could also face probation. Felony charges can result in one year or more in jail and fines exceeding $1,000. Probation and parole are also possibilities.
Enhancement For Refusing To Take A Breath Test
Your DUI charges can also be enhanced if you refuse to cooperate with the authorities i.e., refuse to take a breathalyzer test. You also risk stiffer penalties such as having your driver’s license revoked and facing mandatory jail time.
It’s worth noting that there are laws on testing for alcohol during a DUI test. For instance, while a breath test should be done, you can refuse to take other tests like blood or urine tests if the police officer who arrested you didn’t follow the procedure i.e., present a warrant.
The importance of legal representation for DUI cases can’t be overlooked. Seasoned DUI lawyers such as those at The Medlin Law Firm can assess the particulars of your case in detail to determine the best defenses to use. If you refused to take a test because law enforcement didn’t follow due process, you can face lesser charges or have the case dismissed.
Should I Care About A DUI In Dallas If It Will Be A Class C Misdemeanor?
Assuming you don’t have prior DUI convictions and you simply plan to get from one place to another while intoxicated, should you still care about the resulting misdemeanor? YES! You can’t be sure of the resulting charge until you are arrested and charged.
Class C can be enhanced due to many reasons discussed above. What’s more, being intoxicated impairs your judgment, so you can’t be sure you will get a Class C charge. You could cause an accident by mistake. In a nutshell, you can’t be sure you will face Class C charges that attract a small fine and no jail time. For this reason, you shouldn’t attempt driving if you are intoxicated.
There are other negative consequences. Even if your charges are Class C, misdemeanors are criminal offenses that appear on your record. You can lose a job opportunity, a home, or face other unfavorable conditions just because of a “minor” criminal record.
As mentioned above, you could also lose your driver’s license or have it suspended. Other negative consequences include surcharges. You could be required to pay some money yearly or face high motor vehicle insurance rates.
Summary: Is A DUI In Dallas A Misdemeanor Or A Felony?
Generally, DUIs are Class C misdemeanor offenses in Dallas. However, the penalties can go beyond the scope of typical Class C charges. As mentioned above, repeat offenders can face stiffer penalties. What’s more, the age also determines the charge, with individuals aged above 21 facing more serious DWI charges.
However, DUI charges hardly become felony charges unless in complex scenarios. If you are simply stopped and found to be intoxicated, you are likely to face typical misdemeanor charges. However, if you commit other crimes while intoxicated i.e., damaging property, harming others, or driving with a suspended driver’s license, you risk facing felony charges.
Assuming you are arrested for DUI in Dallas, and you are a repeat offender or face unique negative circumstances i.e., you have caused an accident, killed, or injured someone, seek legal help immediately. A DUI case that results in serious consequences can be argued tactfully by seasoned Dallas DUI attorneys resulting in lesser punishments.
The Medlin Law Firm is one such law firm with a record of challenging harsh DUI charges successfully.