Enhanced Offenses In Connection With A Brazoria County DWI

October 10th, 2015 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense, DWI

When someone is convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), they have to deal with all the consequences of that act. However, if they cause harm to themselves, to others or to property, they may be on the proverbial hook for what Texas law refers to as an enhanced offense. Enhanced offenses are designed to ensure that the consequences of drunk driving do not go unpunished simply because the initial offense is subject to fines or jail time.

The Law Of Enhanced Offenses

Texas is somewhat unique in that an entire category of crime exists within the Penal Code – specifically at Sec. 49.09 – that assesses harsher penalties on offenses if they were committed under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If one examines the text of the law itself, there is a list of offenses from public intoxication to intoxication manslaughter – nearly all of them deal with driving a vehicle of some kind while under the influence. Section 49.09 then mandates that if someone has been convicted of any of the listed offenses more than once, the charge turns into a felony (whereas previously most of the listed crimes are class A misdemeanors).

In essence, serious crimes are made more serious by the introduction of alcohol. The category of enhanced offenses seeks to make sure that distinction is understood.

Intoxication Assault and Intoxication Manslaughter

While ordinary offenses are elevated to “enhanced” status after multiple convictions or serious injuries caused, there are a few select crimes that have their own category. In most states, the assault or death of another human being while under the influence of alcohol may differentiate from the ordinary cause of action at the sentencing phase, but the cause of action is essentially the same. In Texas, there is an entirely different cause of action to begin with.

Intoxication manslaughter, in particular, carries a stiff sentence. It is classified as a second degree felony, with a possible prison sentence of anywhere between two and 20 years, plus fines of up to $10,000 and mandatory community service. If you cause the death of another person by your actions, with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.08, the charge against you will not be voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, but intoxication manslaughter.

Be advised that there are other offenses which can qualify as ‘enhanced,’ such as DWI with a minor in the vehicle, but many do not deal with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Also, it is within a judge’s discretion for a first offense to reduce a prison term to probation, though it is rarely done.

A Texas DWI Attorney Can Help

If you have been charged with DWI, intoxication assault or manslaughter, or another enhanced offense in Brazoria County, it is imperative to seek the help of a good lawyer who knows how to defend you in the best way possible. The Houston DWI lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates are well versed in these types of trials, and will work hard to ensure you have the best chance possible for an appropriate outcome. Contact us via phone at 281-280-0100 to set up an appointment.

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