Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense in Texas. It's typically a misdemeanor and most times, no one gets hurt. Sometimes though, an accident may occur, and someone does suffer bodily injury. When that happens, the alleged offender may be charged with intoxication assault in addition to the DWI charge.
The unfortunate thing is this, the police automatically assume a driver caused the accident when that same driver is suspected of driving while intoxicated. This isn't always the case. An experienced DWI attorney knows how to investigate these types of cases to discover the actual cause of the accident and to challenge the State's claim that the driver was unlawfully intoxicated.
Carl David Ceder, an experienced DWI defense attorney representing clients throughout the greater Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, metro area, aggressively takes on these types of cases. He knows what's at stake: your freedom, your reputation, your career or job, your family, among many other things. He also knows that these cases can be won. Contact his office today to schedule a consultation and learn more about what your options are if you have been charged with intoxication assault.
What is Intoxication Assault?
A DWI and intoxication assault are two separate offenses. Intoxication assault is governed under Texas Criminal Code § 49.07 and states that
A person commits an offense if the person, by accident or mistake:
(1) while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated, or while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another; or
(2) as a result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated causes serious bodily injury to another.
The statute goes on to define what "serious bodily injury" means, stating that it is 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.
Serious bodily harm, therefore, isn't a broken nose or whiplash, but an amputated leg, severe traumatic brain injuries, or near-death injuries.
How Can You Defend Against an Intoxication Assault Charge in Dallas-Fort Worth?
You didn't intend to cause serious bodily injury to another person. But now someone is hurt and the police say it's your fault. What do you do? You have a good job. You have a family. You have a reputation in social circles to maintain. A DWI trial could impact all of these things and more. Do you plead guilty in the hopes that the judge is lenient and you can move on with your life? Or, do you fight?
This is a problem for many people. They think pleading guilty at the arraignment or by plea deal is the best way to go. They don't ever think to question the police or consider that they could win an intoxication assault case.
But you can win.
The State of Texas will use its full weight against you to render a conviction, but Carl Ceder will use the full weight of his resources, knowledge, and experience to challenge the State. In order to win a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that you:
- were driving while intoxicated (or boating or operating an amusement park ride); and
- caused the accident that led to serious bodily injury of another person.
Challenging the DWI Element
Like any DWI case, you can challenge the elements effectively to render an acquittal at trial. A DWI case has three basic elements that must be satisfied:
- you were illegally intoxicated
- while operating a vehicle
- in a public place.
The last two elements are typically understood except in some situations that would not be relevant in an intoxication assault case. For example, if you were asleep behind the wheel, then the element of operating the vehicle would come into question. The element that must be challenged in all situations is the illegal intoxication element. In Texas, you are illegally intoxicated to operate a vehicle when:
- You have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more; or
- You do not exhibit the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol or drugs in the body.
To prove illegal intoxication, the prosecutor will use things like:
- the police report where the police identify certain characteristics about you (e.g., bloodshot eyes or slurred speech)
- field sobriety tests
- breath tests
- blood tests
- urine tests (typically when drugs are suspected)
- eyewitness testimony
- expert testimony
- video, if available.
Carl Ceder will counter each piece of evidence, particularly the field sobriety tests, breath tests, and blood tests. All of these tests – though some more than others – are inherently problematic. In addition, there's the element of human error that can further taint the accuracy and reliability of these tests.
Carl Ceder will also consider any violations of your constitutional rights. Were your Miranda warnings read to you? Was there probable cause to arrest you? Did the police properly search and/or seize your person or property? Was a warrant obtained lawfully and was it properly administered? These and other questions will be examined. If any constitutional violation is found, Carl Ceder can file a motion to suppress any evidence flowing from the violation.
Each case is different, and so the way the DWI element is handled will be dependent on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Challenging Who Caused the Accident
Fault isn't always as clear-cut as it may seem. Determining who and/or what caused the accident that led to another person's serious bodily injury is an important part of your defense. Among different means of investigating this element and developing a defense strategy, an accident reconstruction report can be employed.
This report outlines the scientific and technical elements of the accident and identifies who or what (or a combination of things) caused the accident. Other forms of evidence to challenge who caused the accident may include things like eyewitness testimony and videos of the accident.
What are the Penalties of an Intoxication Assault Conviction?
Intoxication assault is a felony in the third degree. A third-degree felony is punishable by:
- 2 to 20 years in prison; and/or
- a fine of up to $10,000.
Other penalties, including administrative penalties, include:
- court fees
- community service
- DWI education classes
- drug or alcohol treatment programs
- drug and alcohol assessments
- random drug or alcohol testing
- suspension of driver's license
- installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
- driver responsibility surcharges of $1,000 to $2,000 per year for 3 years
- SR-22 insurance requirement
- loss of the right to vote
- loss of the right to own and use a firearm.
Other collateral consequences include things like limits on education, suspension or revocation of professional licenses or security clearances, difficulty traveling outside the county, and problems with child custody.
Contact an Aggressive, Resourceful Intoxication Assault Attorney in Dallas-Fort Worth Today
As you see, a conviction of intoxication assault is serious. Contact Carl Ceder today to schedule a free initial consultation.