Drunk or drugged driving offenses are driving while intoxicated (DWI) crimes that are frequently the result of traffic stops, but some alleged offenders are apprehended at the scenes of automobile accidents. Intoxication assault, a non-fatal crash in which a drunk driver injures a person, and intoxication manslaughter, an accident that causes a victim to suffer fatal injuries, are felony offenses in Texas, but people could also face additional criminal charges even for accidents that only result in property damage.
Property damage only (PDO) crashes involving alleged drunk driving usually mean that a person will face additional criminal charges besides the underlying DWI offense. Convictions in criminal courts can lead to potential civil liability for the alleged offenders.
If you were recently arrested in the greater Dallas area for an alleged DWI offense involving property damage, you will want to seriously invest in your legal defense. The Law Office Of RJ Harber will fight to get the charges against you dropped or dismissed.
Our firm serves a number of communities in the Tarrant County area, including McKinney, Richland Hills, Fort Worth, Frisco, Addison, Bedford, Irving, Lewisville, Denton, Euless, Flower Mound, Garland, Grapevine, Plano, Carrollton, The Colony, Coppell, Grand Prairie, Hurst, Richardson, and South Lake. Call (214) 389-1189 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Unlike accidents causing injury or death, Texas has no state law specifically relating to criminal charges for a DWI offense causing property damage. Most people are instead charged with two different crimes in these cases.
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 is the state DWI law, and the statute provides that a person commits an offense if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2) defines intoxicated as either “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body” or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01(1), alcohol concentration (more commonly referred to as a breath or blood alcohol concentration, or BAC) is the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, 100 milliliters of blood, or 67 milliliters of urine. DWI is typically a Class B misdemeanor, but an offense in which an alleged offender had a BAC of 0.15 or more is known as an “extreme DWI” and is a Class A misdemeanor.
With DWI cases involving property damage, a person will also be charged with reckless damage or destruction under Texas Penal Code § 28.04. This statute provides that a person commits a Class C misdemeanor if, without the effective consent of the owner, they recklessly damage or destroy property of the owner.
The aforementioned classifications of DWI offenses are based on the presumption that a drunk or drugged driving crime is an alleged offender’s first arrest. When a person has no prior drunk or drugged driving convictions, they will face both the reckless damage or destruction charge and the DWI charge.
Reckless damage or destruction is a Class C misdemeanor, while DWI can be a Class B misdemeanor or Class A misdemeanor. Convictions are punishable as follows:
When a person who commits a DWI with property damage offense has prior DWI convictions, then their DWI charges can be enhanced. Third or subsequent DWI offenses will typically result in third-degree felony charges, but it is also a state jail felony in Texas if an alleged offender commits a DWI and has a passenger younger than 15 years of age.
With a state jail felony, a conviction is punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000, while a third-degree felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
The other consequences of DWI and reckless damage or destruction convictions are the potential for civil liability for the alleged offender, as a court could require restitution to be paid to an alleged victim for property destroyed in a DWI crash. Restitution may be a condition to regain your driver’s license, and no license will be issued until the damage is paid for.
If you’ve been charged with a drunk or drugged driving crime, it is important to remember that an arrest is not the same as a conviction. A prosecutor is still required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were legally intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle.
Many of these cases will hinge on the evidence that police officers obtained, usually in the form of breath samples provided as part of alcohol concentration testing. Such tests are performed on extremely sensitive equipment that needs to be regularly maintained and cared for to produce accurate results, and a person may be able to argue that test results were incorrect or invalid because the tests were administered either on equipment that was not properly cared for or by people not authorized to perform such tests.
Another common issue in property damage cases can be alleged victims overstating the value of the property damaged, possibly causing you to pay more than you should have to for property damage. You will want an attorney so you can ensure that any estimate the court considers is a valid one.
Were you arrested in Dallas or a surrounding area for an alleged DWI that involved damage to another party’s property? Do not wait to seek legal representation so you can give yourself the best chance at the most favorable outcome that carries the fewest possible consequences.
The Law Office Of RJ Harber will work tirelessly to achieve a resolution to your case that minimizes penalties. We can provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (214) 389-1189 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.