What “Aggravating Factors” Might Increase Texas DWI Penalties?

If you have been arrested for DWI in the state of Texas, you will face hefty fines and surcharges, community service, alcohol education courses, increased insurance rates, damage to your reputation, and possibly jail time if convicted. If there any aggravating factors at play, these already harsh penalties will be further intensified.

An Open Container Is An Aggravating Factor

Generally, a first-time DWI offender will not be sentenced to time in jail. However, if there was an open container of alcohol at the time of arrest, a conviction will result in a mandatory 6-day sentence in the county jail. The philosophy behind this punishment is the especially flagrant nature of the offense. It’s one thing to drink and then drive. To drink while driving is another – basically a slap in the face of the law.

Underage Drinking Is An Aggravating Factor

A second aggravating factor with regard to DWI is being underage. The reason for this is obvious – individuals under the age are not allowed to drink in the first place. Here, there are two crimes: 1) the illegal consumption of alcohol, and 2) driving while intoxicated. The crime being double, the law dispenses a more severe punishment. Underage DWI is a terrible mistake for a young person to make, especially for one with professional aspirations.

A Repeat Offense Is An Aggravating Factor

A previous conviction for DWI in Texas is an aggravating factor. Why? Because the offender was supposed to have already learned the lesson not to drive while intoxicated. Were the fines not high enough? The community service not time-consuming enough? The alcohol and substance abuse education courses not sufficiently educational? The reputational damage not chastising enough? Irate at the offender’s inability to conform to safe driving practices, the state levies even more stiff penalties on a repeat DWI offender. In Texas, the existence of even one prior offense will transform a second conviction into a felony — a serious crime with serious ramifications.

What To Do If You Have Been Arrested for DWI In Texas

Other aggravating factors include the presence of a minor in a vehicle that was being operated while intoxicated, property damage, or the injury or death of another person as the result of the intoxicated driver’s reckless or negligent conduct. Whatever the circumstances surrounding your DWI arrest, you need to contact an experienced Texas DWI attorney immediately. This is especially the case if one or more aggravating factors is present. As you have learned, the presence of an aggravating factor justifies severe penalties. In other words, you have a lot to lose. A skilled and experienced Dallas DWI attorney will explain your legal options, fight to protect your rights, and work diligently for the best possible outcome for you.