Causing an accident while intoxicated comes with serious penalties in Texas. This is true even in minor accidents when no one was hurt, as drivers face charges not only for driving under the influence, but also for recklessly damaging or destroying someone else’s property. When combined, these charges can have significant repercussions, so if you were recently involved in an accident and were also accused of driving while intoxicated in connection with that collision, it is important to speak with an experienced DWI car accident lawyer in Houston who can help you build a defense.
What Charges Will I Face if I’m Accused of DWI with Property Damage?
There isn’t a state law in Texas that is specifically dedicated to DWI accidents resulting in property damage. Instead, drivers who have been accused of causing these kinds of collisions will usually be charged with at least two separate crimes: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and causing Reckless Property Damage or Destruction.
The first charge requires the levying of allegations that a person was driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, or was driving while physically or mentally impaired due to the consumption of alcohol or a controlled substance. If, however, the driver in question also allegedly caused an accident that resulted in property damage, he or she could also face a reckless property damage or destruction charge.
Criminal Charges for Reckless Property Damage
Under Texas law, recklessly damaging or destroying someone else’s property without the owner’s consent is a Class C misdemeanor. These offenses are punishable by a $500 fine and the creation of a criminal record. However, when these charges are levied against a person who has also been accused of drunk driving, a defendant can expect harsher penalties if convicted, as property damage from a DWI offense will usually be treated as an aggravating factor by a judge.
For instance, those who are convicted of both of these offenses could end up spending six months in jail and paying $2,500 in fines. Besides having multiple convictions on their criminal record, defendants will also typically be ordered to pay restitution to the property’s owner for the damage they allegedly caused. It is also not unusual for defendants in this situation to face additional civil penalties, including probation, driver’s license suspension, and alcohol education classes.
It’s important to remember that drivers who can prove that their BAC tests were improperly administered or were otherwise tainted could avoid an unfair conviction for these offenses. These are by no means the only defenses available to DWI defendants, so if you have been accused of driving while intoxicated and causing an accident that resulted in property damage, you should speak with an attorney about your legal options as soon as possible.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges?
For help defending yourself against accusations of DWI with property damage, please call 713-802-1631 and a member of our legal team will help you set up an initial consultation with one of the dedicated DWI car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Galveston, Houston or League City today.