Can a DWI Accident Send Me to Prison for Life?

The worst case scenario for any Texas driver is getting into a DWI accident. This is not a situation where you can simply exchange insurance information with the other driver and be on your way. If the police suspect that your intoxication caused an accident–especially one that resulted in personal injury or property damage–you are likely facing serious criminal charges.

How serious? Consider this recent DWI accident case from Beaumont. A couple was in their vehicle, which was stopped at a traffic sign, when they were sideswiped by a pickup truck. The driver sped away after the collision, but the wife described him to police as a “white male” between 60 and 70 years old.

The couple managed to locate the truck parked approximately one-quarter mile away. The truck’s driver was “slumped over the steering wheel like he was unconscious,” according to the wife’s subsequent testimony in court. The couple contacted the police. An officer arrived and questioned the truck driver. The officer smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath and saw a bottle of liquor “on the driver’s side floorboard.”

After the driver failed a field sobriety test, the officer obtained a warrant for a blood test. It turned out the driver had a blood-alcohol level of 0.269, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. The driver was then charged not only with felony DWI–he had six prior convictions for the same offense–but also using or exhibiting a “deadly weapon,” i.e. his car, during the commission of an offense.

The jury convicted the driver on all counts. On appeal, the driver maintained there was “insufficient evidence” to prove he actually operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated at the time of the accident. The Court of Appeals flatly rejected that argument. The appeals court said the jury properly credited the testimony of the accident victims, as well as the police officers who investigated at the scene, and that was enough to establish the driver’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

A Galveston Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer Can Help

Houston DWI Attorney Tad NelsonThe driver in this case received life in prison. That may sound harsh for an accident that did not result in death, but remember, this particular defendant had six prior DWI convictions. In Texas, DWI becomes a felony starting with the third offense. And if you have been jailed twice before for DWI, any subsequent offense can lead to a life sentence.

Of course, any DWI charge is serious. Even a first-time offense where nobody is injured can still have a significant impact on your life. That is why it is critical to work with an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney who understands the law and can help you through the process. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today if you have been arrested for drunk driving in Houston, Galveston, or League City, and require immediate legal assistance.

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