Factors that Increase DWI Penalties

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges can lead to severe consequences for the accused. However, did you know that certain circumstances could increase the severity of DWI charges, and subsequently increase potential penalties? If this is news to you, keep reading to learn about the factors that can increase DWI charges.

Multiple DWIs

A past DWI charge can impact a new DWI charge and its subsequent penalties. A first-time DWI is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours; however, a second-time DWI charge is a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum term of confinement of 30 days.

Therefore, a second-time DWI can result in jail terms that are ten times worse than a first-time DWI, and potential penalties increase for a third-time DWI.

A third-time DWI charge could result in severe consequences as the charge is classified as a third-degree felony. A felony is a criminal charge that could lead to more than two years in prison, which means a third-time DWI is 24 times worse than a second-time DWI.

As you can see, potential penalties for a DWI conviction increase greatly for every previous DWI conviction on someone’s record. Therefore, if you are facing a DWI charge and have a prior DWI charge on your record, it might be a good idea to talk to a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney about your case.

Multiple DWIs are only one of the factors that could increase potential penalties; let’s take a look at some of the other factors.

Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Passenger

Another factor that can impact a DWI charge and its subsequent penalties is driving while intoxicated with a child passenger. Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger is similar to driving while intoxicated except a child passenger is present inside the vehicle.

By Texas’ definition, a child passenger is someone younger than 15-years-old. Therefore, 14-year-olds and younger are the ones who can trigger a driving while intoxicated with a child passenger charge.

If someone is accused of driving while intoxicated with a child passenger and has no prior DWIs, his or her charge will be a state jail felony.

Potential penalties for a state jail felony may include:

  • Minimum 180 days in jail, up to two years; and
  • Up to $10,000 fine.

DWI with a child passenger (state jail felony) is clearly worse than a typical first-time DWI (Class B misdemeanor). Additionally, a first-time DWI penalty may increase when someone’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is excessively over the legal limit.

Excessive BAC DWI

If someone exhibits a BAC of 0.15% or higher, he or she could face increased DWI penalties. A first-time DWI is typically a class B misdemeanor, but a DWI where someone tests at a 0.15% BAC could be charged as a class A misdemeanor.

A class A misdemeanor could result in the following penalties in Texas:

  • Up to $4,000 fine; or
  • Jail term of up to a year; or
  • Both the fine and the jail term.

Charged with a DWI? We Can Help

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a DWI charge, hiring experienced criminal defense for a case could be the difference between a criminal conviction and receiving a “not guilty” verdict. If you or a loved one are currently facing DWI charges, Smith & Vinson is here to help.

Call (512) 359-3743 now for a free consultation for your DWI case.