In Texas, alcohol-related driving offenses result in serious charges. But they can get worse if a driver were intoxicated (DWI) and caused bodily injuries to a person while operating a car, truck, aircraft, boat, or motorcycle.
These crimes may lead to the suspension of a driving license, hefty fines, jail time, and more. The charges may apply regardless of whether the injured individual was a pedestrian or a passenger in your car or in another vehicle.
Notably, 13,138 people died in Texas due to drunk driving crashes between 2003 and 2012, according to CDC numbers.
Texas Penal Code on Intoxication Assault
As per section 49.07 of the Texas code, a person can face intoxication assault charges if they accidentally or purposely caused another person a “serious bodily injury” while drunk behind the wheel. Texas law considers a bodily injury to be “serious” if it has led to:
- A severe disfigurement that can lead to a permanent condition
- Impairment or a protracted loss of the function of any body part
- An upped risk of dying.
Note that a law enforcement officer does not need a warrant authorizing them to draw blood from an intoxicated individual. They can do so by force for purposes of blood alcohol testing.
Proof of Intoxication
Prosecutors face the challenge of proving that an accident might not have occurred if the defendant was not drunk. It might be tricky if it was a two-person accident that resulted in injuries to a passenger in the other vehicle. In this case, there could be other reasons causing the injuries, such as another driver’s fault.
For instance, if you hit a car after another driver ran a red light, you might not be guilty of intoxication charges, even if you were drunk driving, under state laws.
Further, if in an accident, a passenger was injured, but they weren’t wearing the seat belt at the time of the crash, the intoxication assault charges might not stand. While a driver may have been under the influence of alcohol, the passenger could have protected themselves from injuries using a safety belt.
When it comes to intoxicated assault, the charges are under a third-degree felony. If found guilty, you can serve at least two years in jail, and the term can extend for up to 10 years. Also, you may have to pay a fine of up to $10,000. Note that courts are also assessing possible community service after jail time that can amount to 600 hours.
Still, a person could face more consequences, such as losing the right to own a personal firearm. They can also lose the right to say ‘no’ to felony convictions during job applications and may have issues when trying to secure housing.
Further, authorities could suspend your driving license for between 180 days and two years.
Other penalties may include:
- A random drug test
- DUI alcohol and drug rehabilitation
- Surcharge fine between $1,000 and $2,000 for driving license retention for three years
- Counseling sessions
- Installation of an ignition interlock in a person’s car
Intoxication assault charges may also increase in severity under certain aggravating circumstances. For instance, a felony can get to a second degree if the victim is pushed into a vegetative state. The same can happen if the casualty was a member of public service and the accident occurred in the line of duty. They can include a firefighter, emergency medical personnel, a police officer, peace officer, and more.
The state of Texas is very strict when it comes to any case of intoxication assault, a crime you can commit only in the Lone State; thus, you need a skilled lawyer if you were arrested and facing intoxication assault charges. An experienced attorney can try to argue your case to show that you were not intoxicated or that your actions alone were not enough to cause the accident.
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