A DWI conviction can potentially result in a lengthy jail sentence, costly fines, license suspension, community service, and other penalties. However, the presence of specific aggravating factors can increase the harsh punishments associated with drunk driving in Texas.
The following are the most common aggravating factors in Texas:
- High blood alcohol content (BAC) – The legal limit in the state is .08 percent, which means having a BAC at or higher than this limit is considered a DWI. Yet, having a BAC of .15 or higher is an aggravating factor. Since a first-offense DWI is typically a Class B misdemeanor, a first-offense DWI with a BAC of at least .15 is considered a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence and fines of up to $4,000.
- Repeat offense – Since a person who was previously convicted of a DWI should’ve learned his/her lesson, a repeat offense is considered an aggravating factor. A second DWI conviction is considered a Class A misdemeanor, while a third DWI offense is a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum ten-year prison term, a fine not exceeding $10,000, and up to two years of license suspension. There is no such thing as a look back provision in Texas, which means there is no time limit between DWI charges.
- Underage driver – Since individuals under the age of 21 are not allowed to consume alcohol, underage drinking is an aggravating factor. There are essentially two crimes: driving under the influence and illegally consuming alcohol. This means underage drivers can face two forms of punishment.
- Open container of alcohol in the vehicle – Having an open container of alcohol in the car at the time of your arrest can lead to a mandatory six-day jail sentence. Having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle without driving is a criminal offense on its own.
- Minor in the vehicle – If there is a minor child (under 15 years of age) present in the car is considered a state jail felony, which can result in a maximum two-year prison sentence, a fine of up to $10,000, and license suspension. This is because driving while intoxicated can endanger a minor’s life.
- Causing an accident – Causing an accident and subsequent property damage while driving impaired can include additional charges such as reckless driving and criminal mischief. If the accident resulted in serious injury, it is considered intoxication assault, which is a third-degree felony. If a DWI accident resulted in someone’s death, a conviction is a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum 20-year prison term and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you have been charged with an aggravated DWI in Bryan or College Station, our experienced legal team at The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. is ready to protect your rights and future from conviction. Contact us and schedule a free consultation for more information today.