While DWI is already an incredibly serious offense in the Lone Star State, one that carries severe penalties and long jail sentences depending on the circumstances, it is important to understand an even more serious violation referred to as aggravated DWI. So, what is an aggravated DWI in Texas and what are the penalties?

This term is used when certain elements, deemed as “aggravating factors”, are present in a DWI case. These factors could include high blood alcohol concentration, minors in the vehicle, or repeated offenses, and their presence can result in much harsher consequences for the offender.

Mark Thiessen and the DWI lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm have made a name for themselves by taking complex DWI cases to trial and making miracles happen for their clients. Today they’re here to discuss how you can be charged with aggravated DWI in Texas, and what those accused of aggravated DWI can do to help themselves. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of DWI, do not hesitate. Call the winning Houston DWI lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm at (713) 864-9000 today and ask them to fight for your freedom. 

Difference between DWI and aggravated DWI

To define aggravated DWI, let us first define a standard charge for DWI in Texas. In order for a person to be charged with a DWI offense in Texas, they must be:

  • Intoxicated by reason of alcohol, a dangerous substance, or a drug
  • Operating a motor vehicle
  • In a public place

Aggravated DWI is pretty simple, and is essentially just what it sounds like — a DWI with circumstances that the state deems as serious enough to require enhanced penalties. There are a few different ways in which you can get an aggravated DWI in Texas, and those different aggravated DWI charges all come with different levels of punishment. 

Aggravating factors for DWI in Texas

An aggravated DWI is not actually a charge separate from a DWI, but rather a DWI charge that carries more severe penalties than a standard DWI charge. There are a number of ways in which a DWI offense can result in a charge for aggravated DWI, including:

  1. Blood alcohol content over 0.15%. If your BAC is significantly above the legal limit (considered to be a .15 blood alcohol level or higher) you will likely receive a steeper charge. 
  2. Child passenger. If there is a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, you will likely be charged with a felony aggravated DWI.
  3. Previous DWI convictions. If you have been previously convicted of DWI you can expect increased penalties and more severe charges. Your 3rd DWI in Texas, and any subsequent DWIs, will automatically be felony charges. 
  4. Intoxication Assault. Intoxication Assault occurs when, by reason of your intoxication, you cause serious bodily injury to another person. Intoxication assault is always a felony and is prosecuted aggressively in Texas.
  5. Intoxication Manslaughter. The most severe aggravated DWI charge possible, Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas, occurs when your driving under the influence causes the death of another. 

If you are arrested for DWI and any of the above aggravating factors are present, you will be looking at enhanced penalties and aggressive prosecution by the state. 

Is aggravated DWI a felony?

Is a DWI a felony in Texas? Is aggravated DWI a felony? It depends. As we mentioned earlier, an aggravated DWI is not a distinct charge but rather a modification of a standard DWI based on the presence of certain aggravating factors.

The bottom line is this: while your standard DWI charge in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor, almost all aggravated DWIs are felony charges. 

How long do you go to jail for a DWI in Texas? Jail time depends on the specific aggravated DWI offense. Penalties for common aggravated DWI offenses are listed below. 

OffenseChargeFineJail Time
First-time aggravated DWI w/ BAC 0.15% or higherClass A misdemeanorUp to $4,000Up to 1 year
First-time aggravated DWI w/ child passengerState jail felonyUp to $10,000180 days – 2 years
Aggravated DWI with prior conviction(s)Third-degree felonyUp to $10,0002 – 10 years
Intoxication AssaultThird-degree felonyUp to $10,0002 – 10 years
Intoxication ManslaughterSecond-degree felonyUp to $10,0002 – 20 years

As you can see, penalties for all forms of aggravated DWI are steep, and all but one are automatically charged as felonies. If you’ve been charged with aggravated DWI in Texas, you need to contact an experienced and aggressive DWI attorney today so that they can start building your defense. 

How hard is it to beat a DWI in Texas?

DWIs are incredibly hard to beat in Texas — aggravated DWI even more so. This is why it is essential that you partner with a trial lawyer who has experience taking difficult DWI cases to court and winning them

Before you hire any attorney you should look at their credentials, their reviews, and their Notable Victories. Do they take aggravated DWI cases? Have they won cases for felony DWI like Intoxication Manslaughter? You need to make sure because not many have. 

Mark Thiessen, however, has. 

Take a look at our Notable Victories page. It doesn’t quite look the same as the pages of other felony DWI lawyers. It’s different because Mark Thiessen actually wins Not Guilty verdicts on Intoxication Manslaughter and DWI repetition cases. Mark is also the only lawyer in America who is quadruple board certified in the following:

  1. Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  2. DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense as approved through the American Bar Association
  3. DUI Law by the DUI Defense Lawyers Association
  4. Board Certified Advocate in Criminal Trial Law by the NBTA Foundation

The bottom line is this: it is incredibly hard to beat an aggravated DWI charge in Texas. If you’ve got a case you can’t lose, you’ve got to call Thissen Law Firm. 

Call the Texas aggravated DWI lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm

So, what is an aggravated DWI in Texas? The key differentiator between a standard DWI and an aggravated DWI is the presence of specific aggravating factors, such as a high BAC, child passengers, prior DWI convictions, or the commission of more serious offenses like Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter.

All forms of aggravated DWI can come with incredibly severe consequences that can disrupt the course of your life, and convictions for aggravated DWI are much more likely to come with minimum sentences in jail or prison.

If you or a loved one is facing charges for aggravated DWI in Texas, you need the best DWI lawyer Texas has to offer if you plan on keeping your freedom intact. Mark Thiessen is THE Intoxication Manslaughter lawyerfor the job. He makes miracles happen for his clients, call him and ask him to make one happen for you. 

Call Mark today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online for a free consultation. 

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Mark Thiessen

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.