Many driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrests stem from traditional traffic stops, but some people are accused of drunk driving after being involved in motor vehicle accidents. When a crash caused by an allegedly intoxicated driver results in serious bodily injury to another person, the alleged drunk driver may be charged with the crime of intoxication assault.
Unlike DWI, which is usually a misdemeanor for a first offense, intoxication assault is a felony. Prosecutors usually seek maximum sentences for people accused of injuring others because of drunk driving.
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident after allegedly drinking and driving, you could be charged with intoxication assault in Texas, which can lead to severe penalties if you are convicted. At trial, a prosecutor in Texas is required to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated and caused serious bodily injury to another person.
Although this burden is high, the prosecutor does not have to show that you intended to hurt another person. The injury could have been the result of an accident or mistake, but you can still be charged with this serious offense.
Intoxication Assault Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX
If you or your loved one have been arrested for an alleged intoxication assault in the Fort Worth area, you do not want to be going into court alone. Make sure you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
Intoxication Assault Charges in Tarrant County
Texas Penal Code § 49.07(a) establishes that a person commits assault if they, by accident or mistake:
- While operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated, or while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another; or
- A result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated causes serious bodily injury to another.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b), serious bodily injury is defined as an “injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
Intoxication assault is usually a third-degree felony, but Texas Penal Code § 49.09 provides for enhanced offenses and penalties. Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b-1) provides that an offense is a second-degree felony if the alleged offender caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty.
Intoxication assault is also a second-degree felony under Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b-4) when an alleged offender caused serious bodily injury to another in the nature of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results in a persistent vegetative state.
Intoxication Assault Penalties in Texas
When intoxication assault is a third-degree felony, a conviction is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison. A second-degree felony intoxication assault offense is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison.
Intoxication assault is not always the only criminal charge a person faces after a crash involving alleged drunk driving. Some people could also be charged with reckless driving or leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run), and the additional criminal charges could involve separate penalties.
Intoxication assault convictions can also in driver’s licenses being suspended for up to two years. The court could also order a person to complete a mandatory drug and/or alcohol treatment program, install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on all vehicles they own or operate, and submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing.
An individual who is convicted of a first DWI assault could receive a driver’s license suspension from 90 days to one year. If the offender received a second or subsequent DWI assault within five years of the previous offense, their license could be suspended for 90 days to one year plus an additional one year. If the DWI assault offender has previously been convicted of any DWI offense within five years, their license can be suspended for a period of one year to two years.
Additionally, an alleged intoxication assault offender could receive community service up to 1,000 hours, installation of an interlock device, required completion of an approved alcohol or drug education program and/or court costs and fees.
Intoxication Assault Defenses in Fort Worth
Certain cases may attempt to challenge certain definitions applicable to the case. There may not be enough evidence to prove that a person was intoxicated, but the injuries involved might not satisfy the state’s definition of serious.
It may also be possible in some cases that the alleged offender was not at fault for the underlying motor vehicle accident. Some charges stem from blood tests performed while alleged offenders are in hospitals, and any number of errors in the administration of chemical tests or the maintenance of the equipment involved could invalidate the results.
The burden of proof is on the state to prove that you were committing a DWI offense. Your defense attorney can help you devise a strategy to challenge the evidence against you.
Some possible defenses include:
- The arresting officer did not follow proper procedures. For example, the officer may not have had a reasonable suspicion to stop you, or the officer may not have read you your rights before questioning you.
- The field sobriety tests were not administered properly. The field sobriety tests are subjective and can be difficult to perform even for sober people. If the officer did not administer the tests correctly, the results may not be reliable.
- The chemical test results were inaccurate. The chemical test is the most objective evidence of intoxication, but it can also be inaccurate. For example, the test may have been administered incorrectly, or the machine may have malfunctioned.
- You were not intoxicated at the time of the accident. If you were not intoxicated at the time of the accident, you cannot be convicted of DWI. Your defense attorney can help you present evidence to support this defense.
If you have been charged with DWI, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you understand the charges against you and develop a defense strategy.
Related Vehicular Assault Offenses in Tarrant County
Under Texas Penal Code Ann. § 49.08, a person can be charged with intoxication manslaughter if they cause the death of another person after they operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated on a public road. This offense is punishable as a second-degree felony.When an individual causes the death of a peace officer, firefighter or emergency medical personnel, the alleged offender could be charged with a first-degree felony. According to Texas Transportation Code § 550.021, a person can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, which is typically a third-degree felony if they do not do the following after an accident involving death or injury:
Immediately stop their vehicle at the accident scene or as close to the scene as possible;
Immediately stop without blocking more traffic than necessary;
Immediately return to the accident scene if they do not initially stop at the scene of the accident; and
Remain at the scene of the accident until certain statutory requirements have been met.
A person can be charged with vehicular manslaughter under Texas Penal Code § 19.04 if they recklessly cause the death of another person while operating a vehicle. An individual can also be charged with vehicular manslaughter under Texas Transp. Code § 545.401 if they recklessly operate a vehicle and cause the death of another person.
Fort Worth Intoxication Assault Resources
Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Texas | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Learn more about alcohol-involved deaths and drunk driving in Texas by viewing this CDC fact sheet. The CDC reported that 13,138 people were killed between 2003 and 2012 in crashes involving a drunk drivers. You can also find strategies to reduce or prevent drunk driving.
DUI (Alcohol) Crashes and Injuries Cities and Towns | Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) — View statistics for driving under the influence (DUI) crashes in 2018 broken down by the cities and towns where the accidents took place and the types of injuries involved. You can also learn more about drunk driving crash statistics on the TxDOT website. Statistics are also available for fatal crashes by month and day, crashes by the hour of the week, and fatal crashes by the hour of the day.
Texas Department of Public Safety – Alcohol Related Offenses – This link is to information about alcohol-related offenses and punishments in Texas, including driver’s license suspensions, administrative driver’s license suspensions, and reinstating a license after an intoxication assault offense.
Texas Department of Transportation – Crash Reports – This link is to the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) website with information on how to access your crash report in Texas, statistics about alcohol related accidents and crashes and miscellaneous information regarding your alleged alcohol-related vehicle accident in Texas.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Intoxication Assault | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Were you or your loved one arrested for an alleged intoxication assault in Fort Worth or a nearby community in Tarrant County? It will be critical for you to retain legal counsel as soon as possible.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. We can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to receive a consultation.