Of course, if you’re intoxicated while driving, you can be charged with a DWI and penalized for the offense. However, that’s not the only charge you can face. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecutor can pursue multiple charges against you.
For instance, you may be accused of:
- Consumption of alcohol by a minor,
- Possession of alcohol by a minor,
- Possession of a controlled substance,
- Possession of alcohol in a motor vehicle,
- Resisting arrest,
- Fleeing from an officer,
- Reckless driving, and/or
- Child endangerment.
When the state brings additional charges against you, the court can impose penalties for multiple crimes if you’re found guilty of each. That means you can face incarceration and/or fines on top of the penalties for DWI.
In some cases, the additional charges may be too steep or not warranted at all. An attorney with a sound understanding of the law can review your case and seek to have charges dropped or reduced, helping you minimize or avoid potential penalties.
DWI Charges Don’t Always Happen Alone
Generally, a DWI happens when someone operates a vehicle while intoxicated. Texas law defines intoxicated as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or having one’s normal faculties compromised because they consumed alcohol and/or drugs.
In some cases, a DWI is strictly a DWI matter, meaning the alleged actor is only considered to have violated Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code.
However, some situations exist where a person can be accused of breaking more than the DWI law. The police officer’s observations or the prosecutor’s review of the incident report may suggest that the individual committed various other offenses besides driving while intoxicated.
If your DWI is accompanied by other criminal charges, you could be sentenced to jail, fines, and driver’s license suspension for the DWI, as well as sanctions for the other offense or offenses.
Let’s examine some of the violations commonly charged with DWI.
CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR
If you’re alleged to have been driving under the influence, it follows that you drank alcohol at some point before getting behind the wheel. Under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 106.04, it’s unlawful for a person under 21 years of age to consume alcohol. You can be penalized by a fine of no more than $500 if convicted of this offense.
POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL BY A MINOR
Technically, if a minor is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, they are charged with a DUI, not a DWI. The difference between the two is that a DUI occurs when a person under 21 years of age operates a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system. In contrast, a DWI happens when someone drives while intoxicated.
In Texas, it’s also illegal for someone younger than 21 years of age to possess alcohol. Thus, if you’re not at the legal drinking age and have a bottle of alcohol in the car, you could be prosecuted under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 106.05. The offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
POSSESSION OF AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE IN A MOTOR VEHICLE
Not only is it illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated, but it’s also illegal to have an open bottle of alcohol in your car. Texas Penal Code § 49.031 provides that motorists cannot have a container of alcohol in a passenger compartment accessible to the driver unless the area is locked.
If you violate the law, you could be fined up to $500.
POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
Texas’s DWI law doesn’t just prohibit driving while intoxicated by alcohol. It also criminalizes operating a vehicle while affected by a controlled substance. If you consumed a drug before getting behind the wheel, and that substance is still on or near you, you could be charged under one of Texas’s drug possession statutes (depending on the drug).
The penalties for possessing a controlled substance are tied to the type and amount of drug. For instance, possession of:
- A penalty group 1 or 1B substance is a:
- State jail felony (punishable by 180 days to 2 years in state jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines) if the amount was 1 gram or less
- First-degree felony (punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines) if the amount was 200 grams or more but less than 400 grams.
- Marijuana is a:
- Class B misdemeanor (punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines) if the amount was 2 ounces or less
- Second-degree felony (punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines) if the amount was more than 50 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds.
You might believe that your DWI arrest is unfair, or you might have been driving while intoxicated and want to try to avoid prosecution. Either way, intentionally trying to stop law enforcement officials from taking you into custody is a violation of Texas Penal Code § 38.03.
The offense is a Class A misdemeanor. This level of charge carries penalties that include a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
FLEEING FROM AN OFFICER
Trying to stop a law enforcement official from arresting or detaining you on suspicion of DWI by running on foot or driving off is considered fleeing from an officer. Under Texas Penal Code § 38.04, such conduct can be penalized by up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to 1 year in jail.
Your ability to safely control your vehicle may be impaired if you’re intoxicated, whether by alcohol or drugs. You could, for example, drive the wrong way or fail to remain in your lane. Such behaviors put others at risk of injury or death.
Under Texas Transportation Code § 545.401, when someone willfully or wantonly disregards the safety of people or property, they could be charged with reckless driving. This misdemeanor offense carries a fine of up to $200 and/or a jail term of no more than 30 days.
Driving while intoxicated with a child under 15 years of age in the vehicle is its own charge under Texas Penal Code § 49.045. On top of that offense, if there’s a minor in your car when you are alleged to have been DWI, you could be accused of violating Texas Penal Code § 22.041, which provides that it’s unlawful to put a child “in imminent danger of bodily injury, death, or physical or mental impairment.”
The offense is a state jail felony carrying a term of incarceration of no more than 2 years and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Call an Attorney for Help
You could face multiple charges if you allegedly drove while intoxicated. Still, the facts might not support the additional charges. A lawyer can review your case and apply appropriate laws. They could discover that the prosecutor is pursuing charges beyond what the evidence suggests and can fight for a reduction or dismissal.