An arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI) is generally a misdemeanor in Texas, but criminal charges can quickly become more serious when a drunk driver is involved in a car accident. Crashes causing serious bodily injury can lead to drivers being charged with the felony offense of intoxication assault.
Intoxication assault charges are typically taken very seriously by prosecutors, who often pursue lengthy prison sentences and steep fines for alleged offenders. Judges can also impose many other kinds of punishments on people who are convicted of this crime.
If you were recently arrested for intoxication assault in the greater Dallas area, turn to an aggressive criminal defense attorney of the Law Office Of RJ Harber for help right away. We are here to provide understanding, experienced counsel to you during this challenging time. We’re here to tell you that you’re not alone, and we’ll be ready to stand up for you.
We will do everything in our power to get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed. We can assess all of your legal options as soon as you call (214) 389-1189 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Intoxication Assault Laws in Texas
Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2) defines intoxication as not having the reasonable use of one’s mental or physical facilities due to the use of alcohol, prescription drugs, dangerous drugs, or another controlled substance. This can include a combination of two or more substances or any other substance in the body. It also includes having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more.
People are expected to provide breath, blood, or urine specimens on request if a police officer suspects that they were operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Intoxication assault is a criminal offense that allows for law enforcement to forcibly draw blood without the consent of an alleged offender who has refused to provide such samples.
According to Texas Transportation Code § 724.012(b)(1), a police officer can request a specimen of the alleged offender’s breath or blood when they arrest an alleged offender who refuses to submit voluntarily when:
- The alleged offender was driving a motor vehicle that was involved in an accident and the officer reasonably believes that an individual has died or will die
- An individual other than the alleged offender has suffered severe bodily injury
- A person has suffered bodily injury and has been transported to a hospital or other medical facility for medical treatment.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.07(a), an alleged offender commits intoxication assault if they, by accident or mistake:
- Cause serious bodily injury to another person while operating a motor vehicle (or an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride ) while intoxicated
- Cause serious bodily injury to another person as the result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated
Serious bodily injury is defined under Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b) as an “injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” When a person causes the death of another person through any of the actions above, the crime is intoxication manslaughter.
Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony, but Texas Penal Code § 49.09 provides for enhanced offenses and penalties.
Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b-1)(1) states that intoxication assault is a second-degree felony when an alleged offender caused serious bodily injury to a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel acting in official duty. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b-1)(2), intoxication assault is a first-degree felony when an alleged offender caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer or judge acting in official duty.
Texas Penal Code § 49.09(b-4) establishes that intoxication assault causing traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting in a “persistent vegetative state” will also be considered a second-degree felony.
Penalties for an Intoxication Assault Conviction
Intoxication assault on its own is a serious crime, but some people may face additional charges as a result of their crashes. Charges for leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run), reckless driving, or other traffic offenses could also be filed against some drivers.
Felony convictions are generally punishable as follows in Texas:
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony — Up to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The consequences of additional crimes could indeed mean a longer possible prison sentence. An intoxication assault conviction will also lead to a driver’s license suspension of up to two years.
Judges may also order some people to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on every vehicle they own or operate. Other possible consequences of convictions can include drug or alcohol testing or mandatory drug or alcohol treatment programs.
Defending Against Intoxication Assault Charges
One of the first significant defenses against intoxication assault charges can often be the alleged serious bodily injury suffered by the alleged victim. Prosecutors can be quick to file intoxication assault charges even though the alleged victim’s condition does not satisfy the state definition of a serious bodily injury.
Even if you submitted to BAC tests that determined you were over the legal limit, the tests are far from flawless. Failure to maintain equipment, unauthorized personnel conducting tests, or any one of many other issues could lead to that evidence being inadmissible and severely impacting a prosecutor’s ability to prove you were intoxicated.
In some cases, the alleged drunk driver may be able to prove that they were not the cause of an automobile accident. In such cases, intoxication assault would not be possible since the statute requires serious bodily injury to be caused because of the alleged offender’s intoxication.
Contact Us For A Free Consultation
Were you arrested for intoxication assault in Dallas or a surrounding area of Texas? Make sure you contact the Law Office of RJ Harber as soon as possible.
Our firm has more than a decade of experience handling all kinds of DWI cases. Call (214) 389-1189 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.