Facing driving while intoxicated charges is never a pleasant experience, but facing aggravated DWI charges is even worse. There is a big difference between standard and aggravated DWI charges in Texas.
If you were arrested for DWI in Texas, it is important to understand when you can face an aggravated DWI charge. A person arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs can face an aggravated DWI charge when specific aggravating factors are present at the time of the offense.
An aggravated DWI charge carries serious penalties. That is why it is essential to hire a Lampasas County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you or your loved one is facing aggravated DWI charges in Texas.
What is an Aggravated DWI Charge?
In Texas, a motorist may face a standard DWI charge when their alcohol blood concentration is over 0.08%. First-time offenders face a misdemeanor offense. However, a driver may be charged with aggravated DWI, which can be either a misdemeanor or felony, when specific aggravating circumstances are present at the time of the offense.
Penalties for a standard, first-time DWI in Texas include:
A maximum fine of $2,000
Up to 180 days in jail
A suspension of the driver’s license for up to 12 months
Let’s discuss aggravating factors in DWI cases and the potential penalties you may face for an aggravated DWI conviction.
When Can You Be Charged with Aggravated DWI in Texas?
A standard DWI charge can be elevated to an aggravated one when one or several of these factors are present at the time of the offense:
1. A Child Under the Age of 15 is in the Vehicle
If you had a child under the age of 15 in your motor vehicle at the time of the offense, your DWI charge would be aggravated to a state jail felony in Texas. You can face fines of up to $10,000 in addition to at least 180 days in jail.
2. Your BAC Level Exceeded 0.15%
If a breath test showed that your blood alcohol concentration is at or over 0.15%, you would face an aggravated DWI charge. As a result, your criminal offense will be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor.
3. You Had an Open Container
An open container in your car at the time of the arrest can lead to an aggravated DWI charge. A DWI with an open container can result in a mandatory 6-day jail sentence. Driving a motor vehicle with an open bottle or container of alcohol can make it more difficult to argue that you were not consuming alcohol prior to your arrest.
4. You Are a Repeat Offender
If you have prior DWI convictions on your record, you may be charged with aggravated DWI. Additionally, if you had two driving while intoxicated convictions, being convicted a third time will be a felony offense, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
5. Another Person Was Injured
If you injured another person because of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you would face an aggravated DWI charge for intoxication assault, which is a felony punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.
6. Another Person Died
If another person died because you were driving while intoxicated, your standard DWI charge would be elevated to intoxication manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony. You can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Can Your Aggravated DWI Charge Be Reduced or Expunged in Texas?
Many Texans who are charged with aggravated DWI wonder if they can get their charges reduced or expunged. If you are facing an aggravated DWI charge in Texas, you may be able to reduce it to a standard charge or reckless driving, depending on the circumstances of your offense.
It is vital to consult with a skilled DWI defense attorney to build a successful defense strategy and fight back against your aggravated charges. Texas criminal courts take aggravated DWI cases seriously.
Your criminal defense lawyer will help you understand all of the options available to you in your aggravated DWI case. You may be able to accept a plea bargain to reduce your aggravated DWI charge.
In Texas, people convicted of standard and aggravated DWI offenses are not eligible for an expungement. In other words, if you are convicted of DWI or aggravated DWI in Texas, the offense will remain on your record forever.
What Are the Defenses to Aggravated DWI Charges in Texas?
If you are facing aggravated DWI charges, it is critical that you speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as you can. Your criminal defense attorney will help you understand your options to protect your rights, freedom, and driving privileges.
Your criminal lawyer will review your unique situation to determine which defenses may be available in your particular case. Depending on the circumstances of your DWI offense, you may be able to raise one of the following defenses:
The police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your motor vehicle
The results of the breath test are inaccurate
The officer failed to properly administer a field sobriety test
You failed a Breathalyzer test due to a medical condition
The results of your blood test cannot be admissible in court
Your blood alcohol sample was not stored properly
The arresting police officer violated your constitutional rights when arresting you
Contact a knowledgeable lawyer to discuss your particular situation and choose the best defense strategy in your aggravated DWI case. You may be able to beat a DWI charge with the help of a skilled attorney on your side.