A 22-year old man was recently stopped by Harris County police on suspicion of DWI after officers witnessed him driving on the wrong side of the road. According to reports, the man was driving westbound in an eastbound lane. During the stop, the driver allegedly attempted to prevent officers from conducting an investigation and was said to have become combative. But -- regardless of these allegations -- he submitted to chemical testing. The test results claimed his blood alcohol concentration was 2.5 times the legal limit. He was arrested and charged with DWI and interfering with public duties.
Can Being Combative With Police During a DWI Stop Aggravate DWI Charges?
Driving while intoxicated, for a first-time offender, is typically a Class B Misdemeanor in Texas. Class B Misdemeanors are punishable by
- 72 hours to 180 days in jail,
- up to $2,000 in criminal fines, and/or
That's a pretty wide range of penalties. How is the punishment for your specific DWI offense determined? The state typically looks at both mitigating and aggravating factors.
Mitigating factors are those that reduce the seriousness of a crime. Examples of mitigating factors could include a blood alcohol concentration below the legal limit, exhibiting safe driving behaviors before the stop, and impairment caused by legally prescribed drugs.
Aggravating factors are those that increase the seriousness of a crime. Examples of aggravating factors could include trying to evade police, speeding, getting into an accident, driving on the wrong side of the road, or having a BAC at or above .15 percent.
Your conduct and interaction with police officers during your DWI stop could also be considered when the state determines an appropriate penalty. If you are cooperative and polite, the state may lean toward the minimum penalties. If you are combative and attempt to disrupt the investigation, the state may decide to pursue more aggressive penalties.
Is Driving With an Extremely Elevated BAC a Felony?
When the 22-year old Harris County man was arrested for DWI, his BAC was 2.5 times the legal limit. That means that he likely registered a BAC of about .2 percent. In Texas, DWI charges are enhanced when drivers register a BAC at or above .15 percent. For first time offenders, a DWI with a BAC above .15 is a Class A Felony. That's the equivalent of being charged with your second DWI the first time around.
So, while driving with an extremely elevated BAC is not automatically a felony offense, it does carry significantly harsher consequences. A Class A Felony is punishable by no less than 72 hours, but no more than 1 year, behind bars. Since drivers are much more likely to get into an accident with extremely elevated BACs, the state will likely pursue the maximum penalties in these situations.
Have You Been Charged With DWI in Harris County?
Are you facing criminal DWI charges in Harris County? It's important to understand that your future is on the line. Hiring an experienced Houston DWI defense attorney will help you secure the best possible outcome in your case. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.