There are a variety of offenses that can arise out of DWI related offenses, and the subsequent range of punishment varies from Class B misdemeanors on the low end to enhanced felonies. The attorneys at Hyatt & Hyatt are familiar with the statutory scheme and understand the intricacies of intoxication-related crimes and lesser-included offenses that may potentially be available. The variety in the range of available punishment is a direct result of both prior criminal history and the underlying charged offense. In addition to the wide range of crimes available to prosecutors in intoxication offenses, there are Drivers’ License implications that include DL suspensions that are particularly harsh for individuals with Commercial Driver's Licenses.
The attorneys at Hyatt & Hyatt are familiar with the current state of the law in DWIs and other offenses that arise out of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Driving While Intoxicated is typically a Class B Misdemeanor. However, unlike “typical” Class B Misdemeanors, the minimum sentence for a Class B DWI is 72 hours. The elements of Driving While Intoxicated are: (1) A Person (2) is intoxicated (3) while operating a motor vehicle (4) in a public place. If it is proven at trial that there is an open container present at the time of the offense, the statutory minimum is raised from 72 hours to six days. While Open Container DWI’s are still Class B Misdemeanors, the punishment floor is effectively raised. Additional elements that change the level of offense are: (1) if you have a prior intoxication offense or (2) if the Blood Alcohol Level(BAC) is 0.15 or higher. If the BAC is 0.15 or higher, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor. Additionally, if it is proven at trial that the defendant charged has previously been convicted of an intoxication offense (ex. DWI), the punishment range is increased to that of a Class A Misdemeanor with a minimum of 30 days confinement being a part of that sentence.
Organizations such as MADD and other victims’ advocacy groups have lobbied the Texas legislature and a direct result, prior convictions of DWIs (or other intoxication offenses) may be used to enhance the offense, resulting in a higher punishment range. If an individual has previously been convicted of either intoxication manslaughter or 2 prior DWIs, the offense level can be raised to that of a 3rd Degree Felony.
If you're curious about the specifics of the statute, Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code is dedicated to Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverage Offenses. Here's a link to that specific Texas Penal Code Chapter: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.49.htm
§49.04 of the Texas Penal Code deals specifically with Driving While Intoxicated while §49.09 provides information on Enhancements and Penalties. It is important to note that offenses enhanced under §49.09 might also be enhanced with other statutes, such as the §12.42 or §12.425, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. That's why it's important that you consult with counsel that's familiar with both the Statutory Scheme and the facts of your case. The attorneys at Hyatt & Hyatt have handled countless intoxication offenses, both as prosecutors and defense attorneys, and are ready and able to guide you through the process.