Getting into a wreck that injures someone is a nightmare scenario for drunk drivers. Suddenly, penalties have just escalated because you sent someone to the hospital. However, even if you don’t end up hurting a pedestrian or car passenger, you can still face enhanced charges for recklessly damaging someone’s property.
This type of DWI with property damage is more serious than a typical drunk driving charge, which is why it is vital to speak to an experienced DWI attorney at Tad Nelson & Associates. We will review whether you have valid defenses to raise and will seek the best possible outcome for your case.
Texas Laws on Property Damage
Texas doesn’t have a DWI law that specifically deals with accidents causing property damage. However, under Penal Code Section 28.04, it is a class C misdemeanor to recklessly damage or destroy someone’s property without their effective consent.
What does it mean to act recklessly? Under Section 6.03(c), a person acts recklessly when they know about but disregard a substantial and unjustified risk, such that their conduct grossly deviates from the normal standard of care. Driving after drinking alcohol or doing drugs would certainly qualify in most cases as a reckless act.
Each criminal incident can give rise to multiple criminal charges. A prosecutor isn’t required to choose between a DWI or a Reckless Damage or Destruction charge. Instead, they will probably charge you with both.
To be charged with DWI, your blood alcohol concentration will need to be 0.08 or higher or you must have been driving while impaired by the consumption of drugs or alcohol.
Penalties for Property Damage DWI Cases
On its own, a property damage charge under Section 28.04 would only net a defendant a $500 fine as a Class C misdemeanor. However, if charged along with a DWI, then the property damage might qualify as an aggravating factor. That means a greater likelihood of time in jail, which in most ordinary DWI cases is optional.
Another penalty is restitution. You will need to pay the property owner to repair or replace their property. In a car wreck, this could represent a substantial sum of money if you total their vehicle. It is not surprising that DWI defendants end up paying more than the $500 fine for a violation of Penal Code 28.04.
Defending These Cases
We approach these cases carefully, looking for evidence to use in your favor. Sometimes, the only evidence the police have is eyewitness testimony that your car hit another one. When the police track you down, they test for intoxication. However, it might be the case that you weren’t driving or you weren’t intoxicated when behind the wheel.
Other defenses include mistaken identity and reasonable doubt. We also need to know how the state administered their chemical tests, since they can make errors during that as well.
Contact Us Immediately for Assistance
Our legal team can swing into action to defend you from a DWI charge. Call us today to pick a time for a free consultation.