Austin Enhanced DWI Attorney
Enhanced DWI Charges In Austin, TX
A typical DWI is charged as a class B misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 6 months jail time and a $2,000 fine. However, there are a number of ways that it is “enhanced” to a class A misdemeanor or even a felony. In these cases, it is especially important to have an experienced Austin enhanced DWI lawyer on the case because the penalties can severely impact your life in many ways, including the possibility of extended jail time.
.15 Blood Alcohol Concentration (49.04(d))
There are several ways that a DWI will be charged as a class A misdemeanor. The most common way is with a blood or breath test that is above .15 BAC. There are many factors that go into BAC level. Obviously, the number of drinks vs. the amount of time spent drinking are major factors, but also weight, gender, time of last meal, and many other factors can affect BAC. By way of example, a 160-pound male can get to .15 with 6-7 drinks.
A BAC of .15 is almost twice the legal limit of .08. Therefore, by statute, the charge can be bumped up to a Class A misdemeanor. There are additional penalties as well. For example, many judges in Travis County will require an ignition interlock device (IID) as a condition of release while you await trial. An IID is not typically required for Class B DWIs.
Even if jail time is rare for class A misdemeanors, prosecutors will still treat a class A misdemeanor differently from a class B. They will be less likely to be lenient with probation terms and reductions/dismissals. There are many other factors that go into a plea agreement, but a class A DWI due to a BAC over .15 is more difficult to defend than one with a lower BAC.
When there is a high BAC test – whether breath or blood – it is imperative to review the results to make sure that the sample was obtained in the proper manner in accordance with police procedures. If they deviate from the procedure, judges have the ability to throw out the results, and often do. This can result in the charge dropping from class A to class B misdemeanor, and give you better grounds to challenge the DWI.
Second (Or Third Or Fourth) DWIs – Class A Misdemeanor Or Felony (49.09)
A DWI conviction can cause the charge to be enhanced to either a class A misdemeanor or a felony if there are previous convictions. Note the term “conviction” here. Just being charged with a DWI does not count as a conviction if it was dismissed or reduced to a lower charge. However, if you plead guilty and were put on probation or took jail time, then that conviction can be used to enhance the new charge.
One previous DWI conviction leads to a class A misdemeanor. Two or more previous convictions lead to a third-degree felony. In many ways, a felony DWI is a much different animal than a class A or B misdemeanor. Importantly, a 3rd-degree felony carries a minimum 2 years jail sentence. The likelihood of spending actual jail time is much higher. Your case gets assigned to a District Court judge and there are likely to be more restrictions pretrial. If the end result is probation, the conditions of probation are likely to be more strict and onerous.
DWI With Child Passenger – State Jail Felony (49.045)
A DWI – even if it is the first time charged – can be enhanced to a State Jail Felony with a maximum jail sentence of 2 years if there is a child passenger at the time of the DWI. Obviously, the punishments are more severe because the safety of a child is part of the equation. These cases are rare, but when it happens, it is especially important to have an aggressive Austin enhanced DWI lawyer who will drive a hard negotiation for a dismissal or reduction to a misdemeanor.
Intoxication Assault – Third Degree Felony (49.07)
In cases where there is an injury to a party, the defendant can be charged with intoxication assault. This is technically a different crime from the DWI and is charged as a third-degree felony with a sentence range of 2-10 years. Serious injury is defined as an injury that creates a “substantial risk of death”, or “causes serious permanent disfigurement … or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” Even when there are no serious injuries, accidents are treated more seriously by prosecutors and judges.
There is an understanding that there are certain DWIs that are “less serious”, but an accident is a huge indicator that the intoxication level in this particular case was a significant danger to others. Even where there was no injury, an accident ups the stakes for a DWI. When there is serious bodily injury, it becomes an assault.
Intoxication Manslaughter – Second Degree Felony (49.08)
The most serious DWI is one in which someone was killed. In these cases, jail time – even extended jail time – is likely unless a good Austin enhanced DWI attorney can either dismantle the State’s case or show significant mitigating factors.
DWI laws are in place to prevent deaths, so when one occurs, the law is often used to its fullest extent to exact punishment. If you or a loved one is ever in a situation where a death has occurred and the fault is assigned, it is imperative that you call an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. The sooner an attorney is on the case, the more likely that he will be able to preserve evidence that could become crucial later as the negotiations continue and the case moves toward trial.
Defenses and Strategies for Enhanced DWIs
There are two possible ways to try to mitigate the punishment of enhanced DWIs. The first is to poke holes in the case by questioning the evidence that the State is using to prosecute. The second is to negotiate to lower the charges down so that the charge is punished as a class B misdemeanor, or even reduced to a class C violation. Which strategy is correct depends on the specific facts that differ on a case-by-case basis.
Contact An Austin Enhanced DWI Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing an enhanced DWI charge – whether misdemeanor or felony, contact an experienced enhanced DWI attorney right away. ATX Legal offers free case evaluations and payment plans to all of our clients.
Defenses To Drug DWIs
As touched upon earlier, the best defense to a drug DWI is usually to force the State to prove that the intoxication – if it happened at all – was not during the time of driving. A blood test with a positive for marijuana, for example, only shows that the driver smoked marijuana at some point in the last two weeks. It obviously would not have affected his driving if he had smoked two weeks ago. A skilled Austin drug DWI attorney will point out the absence of DRE testimony, or call it into question if it exists.
Often, then, jurors must come to the conclusion that a driver is intoxicated by merely looking at the video and judging for themselves. Obviously, there is a spectrum here. A person passed out and slurring his words may be clearly intoxicated. But many cases are not so clear and we can get reasonable doubt.
Sometimes I have to explain to clients that the argument that “I’m a better driver on cocaine!” isn’t going to work. Even if your senses are enhanced, the prosecutor will argue that it also increases your propensity for risk-taking and recklessness, and they’re probably right!
Contact An Experienced Austin Drug DWI Attorney
If you are charged with a drug DWI, it is especially important to have a good defense attorney, because there are a number of areas where only a close inspection of the evidence will reveal holes in the State’s case. An attorney who is not paying close attention could miss an important detail that could have a big impact on the case. It’s recommended that you work with an Austin drug DWI attorney who specializes in these types of cases. Contact ATX Legal today for a free case evaluation and begin building your defense.