Are currently facing a DWI with Property damage charge? Most driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses are the result of ordinary traffic stops, but there are some alleged offenders who will be apprehended at the scenes of automobile accidents. When such crashes cause harm to other parties, then drivers could face charges of intoxication assault which relates to non-fatal crashes in which a person is seriously injured by a drunk driver, or intoxication manslaughter in which an accident causes a victim to suffer fatal injuries.
Both of those crimes are felony offenses in Texas, but people can also other criminal charges even for accidents resulting only in property damage. Property damage only (PDO) crashes involving drunk driving usually mean that an alleged offender will face additional criminal charges besides their underlying DWI charge, and convictions in criminal courts have the potential to lead to civil liability.
DWI with Property Damage Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX
If you were arrested in Fort Worth or a surrounding area of Tarrant County. Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (817) 422-5350 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Southlake, Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and surrounding areas of Tarrant County, TX area. Richard C. McConathy can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can fight to help you achieve your case’s most favorable possible outcome. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to get a free consultation so you can discuss your case in greater detail.
Texas DWI with Property Damage Laws
Unlike the accidents that involve injury or death, Texas does not have a state law specifically relating to criminal charges for DWI offenses causing property damage. Instead, most people will be charged with two different crimes.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a person commits a DWI offense when they operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated in a public place. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2), intoxicated is defined as a person either not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties because of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, any combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body, or simply having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
Texas Penal Code § 49.01(1) establishes that an alcohol concentration, which is more commonly known as breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC), refers to the number of grams of alcohol per:
- 210 liters of breath;
- 100 milliliters of blood; or
- 67 milliliters of urine.
A DWI is often a Class B misdemeanor, but a crime in which an alleged offender has a BAC of 0.15 or more is called an “extreme DWI” and will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor.
A DWI case involving property damage involves a person also being charged with reckless damage or destruction under Texas Penal Code § 28.04. Under this statute, an alleged offender commits a Class C misdemeanor when they recklessly damage or destroy the property of the owner without the effective consent of the owner.
Criminal Penalties for DWI with Property Damage
The previously mentioned classifications of DWI offenses are based on a presumption that a drunk or drugged driving crime was an alleged offender’s first arrest. If a person has no prior drunk or drugged driving convictions, they can face both the reckless damage or destruction charge and a DWI charge.
Whereas reckless damage or destruction is a Class C misdemeanor, DWI may be a Class B or Class A misdemeanor. Convictions will be punishable as follows:
- Class C Misdemeanor — A fine of up to $500.
- Class B Misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
If a person who commits a DWI with property damage offense has previous DWI convictions, their DWI charges may be enhanced. Third or subsequent DWI offenses usually result in third-degree felony charges. Still, it can also be a state jail felony when a person commits a DWI offense with a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age.
A state jail felony will be punishable by as much as two years in state jail and/or fines of up to $10,000. A third-degree felony will be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Another consequence to DWI and reckless damage or destruction convictions is the potential for civil liability for an alleged offender, as a court could require restitution to be paid to an alleged victim for property destroyed by a DWI. Restitution may be a condition to regain a driver’s license, such that no license will be issued until restitution is paid.
When property is damaged because of an alleged DWI incident, the police or prosecutor can file a charge of reckless damage or destruction of property in addition to the DWI charge. This charge is again a Class C misdemeanor that involves no possible jail time, but may result in a maximum fine of $500 and restitution for the “fair market value” of any damaged property.
Civil Penalties for DWI with Property Damage
Criminal penalties are frequently imposed by courts in DWI with property damage cases, but civil or administrative penalties can also be imposed in these cases. Civil penalties can be ordered by a court and could include driver’s license suspension, probation, mandatory DWI classes, and DWI surcharges of $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years to maintain the driver’s license after a DWI suspension is lifted.
An alleged offender charged with DWI in Texas will automatically lose their driver’s license unless they request an administrative hearing within only 15 days of their arrest. A court can also require restitution for the property destroyed because of a DWI as a condition of probation, or as a condition to reinstate a driver’s license, meaning that until the restitution is paid, the driver’s license will not be valid.
Defending DWI with Property Damage Against Charges
After a person is charged with drunk or drugged driving, they need to remember that arrests are not the same as convictions. A prosecutor still must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an alleged offender was legally intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle.
Most cases hinge on the evidence that police officers obtained at the scenes of arrests, usually breath samples that were provided as part of alcohol concentration testing. These tests are performed on extremely sensitive equipment that needs to be regularly maintained and cared for to produce accurate results, but a person could argue that the test results were invalid or incorrect because the tests were administered either on equipment that was not properly cared for or by people who were not authorized to perform such tests.
Another frequent issue in property damage cases may be alleged victims overstating the value of the property damaged, possibly leading to a person having to pay more than they should for property damage. You will want to have an attorney so you can be sure any estimate the court considers will be a valid one.
Tarrant County DWI with Property Damage Resources
Hanna v. State, 426 S.W.3d 87 (2014) — Dana Hanna pleaded guilty to DWI and the trial judge accepted his plea, ordering him to pay $7,767.88 in restitution to Lubbock Power and Light (LP & L) to repair a utility pole that Hanna’s car had struck. Hanna appealed, arguing that Article 42.037 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure did not authorize any restitution because LP & L was not a victim of the crime for which he was convicted. In agreeing, the court of appeals held that the restitution order was improper because DWI is a victimless crime since it does not encompass per se a particular category of the complainant, and there was also no victim alleged in the charging instrument. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas concludes that restitution can be ordered in a DWI case and may be ordered for someone whose name did not appear in the charging instrument, but the State of Texas must prove that a defendant’s commission of the offense was the direct cause of the harm. Because Texas failed to prove that Hanna’s intoxicated driving caused the damage to the utility pole, the Court of Criminal Appeals ultimately affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals.
Moore v. State, 520 S.W.3d 906 (2017) — While driving in a state of intoxication, Harold Michael Moore rear-ended another car stopped at a red light, causing both the driver and passenger bodily injury although it was not serious bodily injury. A trial court found that Moore’s SUV constituted a deadly weapon that he used in the course of committing a felony DWI offense. The Fort Worth Court of Appeals ultimately reformed the judgment and deleted the deadly weapon finding, holding that the evidence in the case did not support it. In a petition for discretionary review, the State of Texas contended that the court of appeals failed to draw every reasonable inference from the evidence in support of a deadly weapon finding. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas agreed and reinstated the deadly weapon finding.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for DWI with Property Damage Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Were you arrested in Fort Worth or a surrounding area of Tarrant County for an alleged DWI that involved damage to another party’s property? Get legal representation as soon as possible so you can have the best chance at the most favorable outcome carrying the fewest possible consequences.
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (817) 422-5350 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Southlake, Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and surrounding areas of Tarrant County, TX area.