What Texas DWI Charges Will Apply if Someone Was Injured or Killed?
The circumstances surrounding a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) can vary significantly. While DWI is a serious criminal offense, first-time offenders will usually be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. They will be required to serve a minimum sentence of 72 hours in jail, and the maximum sentence is 180 days (six months). They may also be fined up to $2,000, and their driver's license may be suspended for up to two years. The penalties can increase significantly if a person faces DWI charges for a second or subsequent time, and other aggravating factors may also cause DWI to be charged as a felony, regardless of previous offenses. These include the injury or death of someone due to drunk or intoxicated driving. By understanding the penalties for these offenses, those who have been arrested and charged with crimes can determine their best options for defense.
Intoxication Assault and Intoxication Manslaughter
When a person drives while drunk or after using drugs, they will be more likely to lose control of their vehicle. Alcohol or drug use can lead to a number of impairments, including increasing a person's reaction times, limiting their coordination, and causing problems with vision. When driving at night or in adverse weather conditions, accidents may become even more likely. A drunk or drugged driver may fail to notice and respond to other vehicles, they may be unable to slow down when necessary, or they may veer off the road after losing control. When they collide with other vehicles or strike people on foot or on bicycles, this may result in serious injuries, or a person may even be killed.
When drunk driving results in injuries, a driver may be charged with intoxication assault in addition to DWI. The offense of intoxication assault requires serious bodily harm to an alleged victim, meaning that their injuries must have put them in serious danger of being killed. Serious bodily harm may also involve the loss of a body part or organ, disfigurement such as scars, or permanent impairment of bodily functions. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony, which carries a potential penalty of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If a driver causes serious bodily harm to a police officer or firefighter, or if a victim suffers a traumatic brain injury that causes them to experience a persistent vegetative state, intoxication assault is considered a second-degree felony, and the penalty can include up to 20 years in prison.
Charges of intoxication manslaughter may apply if a driver accidentally and unintentionally kills someone while driving while intoxicated. This offense is a second-degree felony, which can result in a prison sentence of two to 20 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. If a police officer or firefighter was killed, intoxication manslaughter may be charged as a first-degree felony, and a person may be sentenced to between five and 99 years in prison.
In situations where intoxicated driving leads to injuries or death, a person will most likely face multiple types of criminal charges. In addition to the underlying DWI charge and a charge of intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter, the driver may also be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal negligence, or other related offenses. When added together, the penalties for these charges may result in years or decades behind bars, as well as other consequences.
Contact Our Plano DWI Defense Lawyer
Regardless of the specific charges, driving while intoxicated is an offense that can result in multiple types of serious consequences. If someone was injured or killed in a DWI accident, a person may be unsure about their options for defense, and they may be concerned that their life could be affected for years to come. Representation by an experienced lawyer is crucial in these situations. At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we can help those who are charged with intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter determine how to proceed, and we can provide dedicated representation in court while advocating for our client's rights. To learn more about how we can assist with these cases, contact a Dallas DWI defense attorney at 214-303-9600 and schedule a free consultation.