Most people who are arrested for DWI are never arrested again. If there are more DWI arrests, the punishment levels can keep going up. If you’re arrested for a DWI, it’s usually a class B misdemeanor. This means that the maximum punishment is 6 months in jail. There are several ways that Texas can enhance your DWI which increases the punishment. Below are all of the ways that a DWI can be enhanced.
Your Blood Alcohol Content is .15 or Higher
The most common way that a DWI can be enhanced is if your blood alcohol level is .15 or higher. When you’re arrested for DWI, the police will try to get a breath or blood sample. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .15 or higher, your DWI can be enhanced to a class A misdemeanor. This increases the maximum punishment to 1 year in jail.
You Have an Open Container of Alcohol in Your Car
If you have an open container of alcohol in your car, Texas can enhance your DWI. It still remains a class B misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail, but the minimum punishment is 6 days in jail. On a normal DWI, if you’re found guilty, the minimum jail time is 3 days. Even though there is a minimum jail time, that time can be probated letting you avoid more jail time.
This is Your Second DWI
If you’ve been convicted before for DWI, even if it’s in a different state, a new DWI case can be enhanced to a class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail. There are two interesting things about a second DWI. First, there’s no minimum punishment on a DWI 2nd. For a first DWI, the minimum punishment is 3 days in jail, but for some reason, the state did not add a minimum jail time for a second DWI. Second, you must have a previous conviction for DWI to enhance a second DWI. If you’re arrested a second time for DWI, but your first DWI is still pending, both cases would be charged as a first DWI. Obviously, it’s better to avoid getting arrested again for DWI, even if your first one is still pending.
This is Your Third or More DWI
If you’ve been convicted two or more times for DWI, even if it’s in a different state, you’re DWI will be enhanced to a third degree felony with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. There are also other implications of being convicted of a felony like not being able to legally possess a firearm that could have an impact on you.
Occasionally, you will hear about a person who has even more DWI’s. If a person has more than 3 DWI convictions or has other felony convictions, the punishment level can keep going up. If you get a third DWI and you have another felony conviction, your case could be enhanced to maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. If you only had DWI convictions, this could be 3 DWI convictions (the third being a felony conviction) and then getting arrested again for DWI.
If you get one more beyond that, a DWI 3rd or More plus 2 previous felony convictions, your case could be enhanced to a maximum of 99 years in prison and a minimum of 25 years in prison.
What We Can Do To Help
When I have a client who is charged with DWI, I’m trying to keep them off of this path of constantly increasing punishment levels. First, we’re going to try and keep our clients from getting a DWI conviction. If a DWI case is dismissed, it cannot be used later on to enhance a DWI case. We will go over all of the evidence, including evidence related to blood or breath test results that many attorneys don’t even request, so that we can work towards the best result in the case. Second, if someone has a substance abuse issue, we’re going to help them get help with that issue so that they don’t get another DWI. Third, if their case is being enhanced and the cased isn’t going to be dismissed, we’re going to work towards having the enhancement reduced, which brings down the punishment level in their case.
A first DWI is just one step above a speeding ticket under the law, but it’s a charge that can have serious consequences, especially if you’re ever arrested for DWI again. It’s important to get an attorney who knows the law and science behind a DWI. Even if you never drink and drive again, you never know when an officer is going to falsely accuse you of driving while intoxicated.
If you have any questions about how a DWI can be enhanced or if you’re facing a DWI now, feel free to give me a call or click the link below to schedule a free consultation. I’d be happy to help you out.