3 factors that can aggravate Texas DWI charges
The average driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense in Texas is classified as a misdemeanor charge. As a result, people sometimes fail to consider the risks of such charges as seriously as they should. They may assume that they can receive lenient sentences if they plead guilty and that a misdemeanor record won’t limit their opportunities in life very much.
A defendant who pleads guilty is at risk of an assortment of penalties including driver’s license suspension, fines and incarceration. In some scenarios, the potential charges and likely penalties are more severe than in other situations. Certain aggravating factors can lead to Texas state prosecutors pursuing more serious criminal charges against someone.
These same aggravating factors may also inspire judges to be less lenient when sentencing someone after a conviction or guilty plea. What factors can influence the charges and penalties associated with a drunk driving arrest in Texas?
One of the scenarios in which the state pursues enhanced charges after a DWI arrest involves having other people in the vehicle. Specifically, Texas prosecutors can bring felony charges against someone arrested for a DWI with a passenger who is under the age of 15 in their vehicle. Children and young adults typically do not have the ability to refuse to ride with an adult who is under the influence, and the state can increase both the charges and penalties possible if someone puts a child at risk when they choose to drive after drinking. Prosecutors can pursue child endangerment charges in addition to a DWI offense.
The outcome of a drunk driving situation influences what charges the state pursues. If someone causes a crash that injures another person or leads to someone dying, the driver accused of impairment May face felony charges. Prosecutors have the option of pursuing intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter charges depending on whether a drunk driving incident hurt someone or resulted in someone’s death.
Having a prior record
Someone accused of a first DWI offense will face more lenient charges and less severe penalties than someone who has repeatedly broken the same law. The possible penalties increase with each subsequent DWI charge. In some cases, repeat offenses can be enough on their own to justify felony charges.
Understanding how the state handles DWI charges may inspire Texas defendants to respond proactively after a drunk driving arrest.