Not all of those who are involved in DWI accidents are fortunate enough to avoid causing or suffering some sort of physical injury. In fact, it is not uncommon in these types of cases, for the person accused of driving while under the influence to also be charged with intoxication assault, or even manslaughter. Those who are convicted of these offenses face serious penalties, so if you were recently arrested for or are being investigated for your involvement in a DWI accident, it is critical to speak with an experienced Houston intoxication assault (DWI car accidents) lawyer who can help you begin building a strong defense.
What Qualifies as a Serious Bodily Injury?
Under Texas law, a person can only be convicted of intoxication assault if an alleged victim suffered a serious bodily injury. To qualify as a serious injury, however, an injury must have:
- Created a substantial risk of death;
- Caused serious permanent disfigurement;
- Resulted in the protracted loss of a bodily member or organ; or
- Caused the protracted impairment of the functioning of an organ or body part.
Even if a person’s injury qualifies as serious, a defendant can only be convicted of intoxication assault if the state can prove that:
- The defendant was intoxicated at the time of the crash, meaning that he or she had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more, or had lost the normal use of his or her physical or mental functions;
- The defendant was operating the vehicle at the time of accident; and
- The defendant’s intoxication caused the victim’s injury.
It’s important to note, however, that a person doesn’t need to have intentionally caused someone else to suffer an injury to be charged with intoxication assault.
Penalties for an Intoxication Assault Conviction
Intoxication assault is a third degree felony offense, which means that those who are convicted of this crime face serious penalties, including:
- A prison sentence of between two and 20 years;
- Fines totaling as much as $10,000;
- Up to 800 hours of community service;
- The loss of a driver’s license for at least two years; and
- The completion of a mandatory substance abuse education or rehabilitation program.
Intoxication assault charges can be enhanced in certain cases. For instance, in 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a law which states that drivers who cause a police officer or judge to sustain a serious bodily injury while driving intoxicated can be charged with a first degree felony. First degree felonies are one of the most serious crimes with which a person can be charged in Texas, with those who are convicted facing between five and 99 years imprisonment.
Have You Been Charged with Intoxication Assault in Houston, Galveston or League City?
If you have been accused of causing an accident while intoxicated, you could be facing serious jail time and fines. Please call 281-962-7817 or fill out our online contact form to speak with one of the experienced Houston intoxication assault (DWI car accident) lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates about how we can help.