3 Aggravating Factors That Can Make a Texas DWI Worse

Under Texas law, an aggravated DWI refers to a set of unique circumstances that heighten the severity of a DWI charge.

For instance, if you injure someone while driving drunk, have a child in the vehicle, get pulled over with an open container in the vehicle, or have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15% or higher, your case will be considered an aggravated DWI case.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common and serious aggravating factors that can exacerbate a DWI case in Texas. Keep reading, find a qualified criminal defense attorney, and start working your way toward freedom.

1. Injury/Death

Approximately 32 people die from drunk driving injuries in the US each day. Injury/death is the most serious and critical aggravating factor. If you’re arrested for intoxicated manslaughter or intoxicated assault, you will be facing felony charges, which escalate both the fines and punishment. If you are facing felony charges, you will need a criminal defense lawyer to handle your case.

2. Previous DWI Convictions

If you were convicted of drunk driving before, the court will take that into account in considering your innocence or guilt as well as the severity of your punishment for your second or third offense. Second- and third-time convictions carry more serious penalties, from longer jail or prison time to higher fines. The state escalates punishment for subsequent DWI convictions because it finds it concerning that the person did not learn from their previous convictions.

3. Open Container of Alcohol in the Vehicle

Was there an open container of alcohol present in the vehicle at the time of your arrest? If this is the case, you’ll face a mandatory six-day jail sentence. Driving with an open container of alcohol is a stand-alone crime and gives officers probable cause to request field sobriety tests because it’s assumed that you’ve been drinking from it. When combined with a DWI, it’s considered an aggravated offense.

Recommended Read: 10 Things to Know If Stopped for DWI in Texas

4. Extremely High BAC

A glass of whiskey on a table backlit by a bar prior to a DWI

An extremely high BAC is considered an aggravating factor in Texas DWI cases. If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, your charges will increase because you are near twice the legal limit of .08% BAC. Prosecutors will aggressively pursue convictions with high BAC levels because of the perceived danger someone with this level of intoxication presents to the safety of the general public. If you even remotely feel that your BAC level is this high, call an Uber, taxi, or a friend to give you a ride home.

5. A Child in the Vehicle

This is one of the more serious aggravating factors. Under Texas law, if a child under 15 is present in the vehicle, the DWI automatically becomes a state jail felony. If convicted, you will face at least 180 days in prison and pay up to $10,000 in fines.

Looking for an experienced DWI lawyer who can build an aggressive defense? Call Attorney JL Carpenter. As a former prosecutor, she is an experienced and reputable criminal defense attorney in the Greater Houston area. JL fights aggressively for her clients, as a closer look at her case results will show. When you’re ready, schedule a consultation.

JL represents clients in Clear Lake, Friendswood, Webster, and the surrounding regions. Her practice areas also include BWI, drug possession, family violence, and domestic violence, among others.