You may be among the few who still believe driving after you have been drinking is no big deal. Most states impose a legal limit of .08 percent blood alcohol concentration, but the fact that some states are dropping that level indicates how seriously lawmakers take DWI. While you may not go to jail, in Texas, the consequences for even a first-offense DWI can include, among other things, substantial fines and loss of your license, which makes it difficult to get to work and complete other important tasks.
There may be factors that can increase the severity of the penalties you face after a DWI arrest. If your situation includes any of these aggravating factors, you may find yourself facing much more than a traffic ticket or a misdemeanor offense. In fact, you may face criminal charges that could derail the rest of your life.
Aggravating elements lead to enhanced penalties
Aggravating factors are those that add a higher level of danger to those that exist in a regular DWI situation. These factors may result in enhanced penalties that, depending on the circumstances, may include extended time in jail, substantially higher fines, additional criminal charges and long-term license suspension. Some of those factors include the following:
- Driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle
- A BAC that is significantly higher than .08 percent
- Causing a DWI accident that results in the injury of someone else, such as the driver or passenger in another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a passenger in your vehicle
- Driving while impaired on a suspended license
- Speeding when your BAC is over the legal limit
- Prior DWI convictions
If you have more than one DWI conviction in your past, the court may determine you need intervention for an alcohol abuse problem. You may receive a sentence that includes mandated treatment for substance abuse or other methods of helping you learn to control your drinking. Nevertheless, in Texas, a third DWI is a felony charge, so you will likely face additional penalties as well.
Anytime you are facing criminal charges, whether a simple DWI or a DWI with aggravating factors, you have a lot on the line. Drunk driving convictions remain on your record, and this can impede your ability to remain on an optimistic path in life. Seeking legal assistance as early as possible after an arrest for impaired driving can allow you to build a strong defense strategy for a better chance for a positive outcome.