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What if a Passenger is Hurt While Driving Drunk?

Updated: Apr 1, 2024 @ 5:30 am

Less than 1 minute Reading Time: Minutes

Intoxicated motorists run the risk of colliding with other vehicles or even fixed objects, like trees and fire hydrants. These wrecks not only damage your vehicle, but they can also lead to severely injured victims as well. At Tad Nelson & Associates, we have defended many men and women accused of DWI. If someone suffered a bodily injury in a collision, then the criminal penalties jump even higher. You certainly need an experienced Houston DWI lawyer to help defend you from these charges.

What is Intoxication Assault?

Drunk driving is a crime regardless of whether anyone is injured. The state is happy to punish someone even if they never crash their car, because the state knows how risky it is to drive drunk.

However, an intoxicated motorist who crashes and injures someone has engaged in even more blameworthy conduct. Now the worst has happened—people have ended up injured because of your mistake. For this reason, Texas has created the crime of intoxication assault, which is found at Section 49.08 of the Penal Code.

This law makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle in public and cause serious bodily injuries to someone because of the intoxication. In short, you have committed this crime if you hurt someone while driving drunk.

The law doesn’t require that the victim be someone outside the vehicle. You can face charges even if passengers in your car are hurt. Even low speed collisions can result in serious bodily injuries like concussions, fractures, chest injuries, and back injuries. At high speeds, collisions can result in crush injuries and paralysis, among other catastrophic injuries.

This is a third-degree felony. If convicted, a judge can sentence you to prison for up to 10 years. As a felon, you can lose critical civil rights, like gun rights.

Can You Defend Against This Charge?

In our experience, defending against intoxication assault is much harder than if you were a first-time DWI offender without any victims.

There are certain defenses you should avoid. For example, don’t claim the victim assumed the risk of injury because they knew you were drunk. A prosecutor will be unimpressed with that argument. You don’t have a right to injure someone.

Another argument is that a victim’s injuries weren’t “serious” as required by law. That might work, if you hit someone at very low speeds. But an injury doesn’t have to be incapacitating to come within the language of the statute.

You might have better luck challenging the proof that you were intoxicated. Without the element of intoxication, you might not even face criminal charges for an accident.

As experienced DWI defense lawyers, we can:

  • Challenge the method of collecting urine or blood samples;
  • Identify gaps in the chain of custody which undermine the credibility of a toxicology report;
  • Argue your stop was unconstitutional; or
  • Raise doubt that you were even intoxicated in the first place.

The right defense will depend on the facts. Did you give a breath or blood sample? What was the BAC? These are important questions to answer in a consultation.

Call Tad Nelson Today!

Our firm is accepting new clients. Please call us today to talk about your case.

Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the TBLS.

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