Is Travis County Too Lenient on DWI Drivers?

Keys and Drink

Photo of a glass of alcohol next to car keys

You may recall in late April, famed Austin blogger Kelly Noel was walking home on the Interstate 35 frontage road when a drunk driver struck and killed him. Unfortunately, KXAN reports that the drunken driver, 40-year-old Wade Atwood, will not face felony charges.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office said that a grand jury indicted Atwood on a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI). The jury decided against indicting him on an intoxication manslaughter charge.

Some are puzzled that the DA’s office will not pursue Atwood for intoxication manslaughter, which is a felony charge. Neil Diaz, a friend of Noel’s, said, “I personally feel it’s disappointing, and I feel that many of us are going to have questions about the judicial system.”

Even Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has said Austin’s drunken driving problem has become worse because of the DA’s failure to convict people arrested on DWI charges.

What Are the Punishments for Misdemeanors in Texas?

Misdemeanors are classified the same way as felony charges, which is they are classified on the severity of the crime. Below are the three types of misdemeanors and the punishments of those charges:

  • Class A Misdemeanor
    • No more than a $4,000 fine
    • No more than one year in jail
  • Class B Misdemeanor
    • No more than a $2,000 fine
    • No more than 180 days in jail
  • Class C Misdemeanor
    • A fine that is no more than $500

As you can see, a Class A misdemeanor is a worse punishment than a Class C misdemeanor. First time offenders of a DWI are generally handed a Class B misdemeanor, which can progress higher with subsequent offenses.

The Law Offices of Aaron Allison – Austin Personal Injury Attorney



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *