In the state of Texas, an aggravated DWI refers to circumstances or conditions that exist in addition to the immediate DWI charge. The circumstances may include causing an accident while driving drunk, getting caught with an open container in the car, previous DWI convictions, or having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15% or higher.
These special circumstances can affect the way you are charged or convicted of the latest crime. Furthermore, they can impact your sentence. You may face a longer prison sentence, higher fines, extended driver’s license suspension, or more community service hours.
The Difference Between a DWI and an Aggravated DWI
The main difference between a DWI and an aggravated DWI is what you are charged with and convicted of.
According to Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code, “a person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” If you are arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, then your charges typically end there. A typical scenario might include a police officer noticing that you are swerving on the road and pulling you over out of suspicion. You may be arrested based on your inability to drive the vehicle or a BAC test of .08 percent or higher.
DWI cases often include first-time offenses and only involve your impaired ability to drive or BAC level. Therefore, you will only be charged with drunk driving and no other offense.
What distinguishes an aggravated DWI from a regular DWI is that you may be charged with more than just impaired driving or a BAC higher than .08 percent. You could also be charged with intoxicated manslaughter, multiple DWI offenses, or endangering a child while driving drunk.
In an aggravated DWI, you are facing multiple charges, not just the act of driving drunk. Or, you may be looking at tougher penalties due to certain circumstances even if you are only charged with a DWI and nothing else.
Penalties for an Aggravated DWI in Texas
The penalties for an aggravated DWI in Texas will vary depending on the circumstances of your arrest. Penalties in aggravated DWI cases may include:
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Prison sentence of up to 10 years
- Driver’s license suspension
- Court costs
- Mandatory alcohol addiction treatment program
- An interlocking device on your car
- Lifetime DWI conviction on your record
In addition, the court may also impose a driver’s license annual renewal fee of up to $3,000 for three years, up to 600 hours of community service, and probation for up to six months. Each circumstance above the DWI charge could extend each penalty significantly.
Aggravating Circumstances in a Texas DWI
Some special circumstances that can lead to an aggravated DWI in Texas include:
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Death or Injury
Perhaps the worst possible charge in a DWI-related case is intoxicated manslaughter or intoxicated assault. This means that someone was injured or killed as a result of someone driving drunk. Penalties can include a 20-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000.
Every time you are caught driving drunk within a certain timeframe, the penalties get tougher. Each offense causes you to incur a longer prison term, higher fines, and a longer driver’s license suspension. Plus, the state will impose new penalties that did not exist with the previous charge.
Minor in the Vehicle
If a child under the age of 15 was in the car while you were drinking, you may receive up to two years of jail time and a $10,000 fine for endangering the child. The penalties come with a first-time offense.
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Blood Alcohol Concentration
If your BAC was at least 0.15%, then you are nearly double the legal limit. This means that your ability to drive a vehicle is highly impaired. A sentence may include up to one year of jail time and a maximum fine of up to $4,000.
Getting Legal Representation for an Aggravated DWI Case
If you are arrested and charged with aggravated DWI, then you may want to consult a DWI lawyer in Dallas, Texas. An attorney can review your case, investigate what happened, and make recommendations on how you should proceed. Lawyers can use their resources to get you the best possible outcome based on your situation.
Furthermore, if you are innocent of the charges, an attorney can gather evidence and speak with witnesses who may be able to testify on your behalf. Your attorney can work with you to get your charges dropped or reduced. They can also guide you if you decide to enter a plea bargain.
Contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg
If you need legal services for an aggravated DWI, then contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg. We offer legal representation for all types of DWI Cases. Call (214) 696-9253 to get a free case assessment with a DWI lawyer in Dallas, Texas.