While judges and prosecutors take all alcohol-related driving offenses seriously, they are especially aggressive about prosecuting cases where a DWI causes injury to another person in an auto accident. When a driver who is impaired while driving causes a collision that results in serious injury to another, the driver may be charged with Intoxication Assault under Texas Penal Code §49.07. Because serious injuries can create enormous physical, emotional and financial hardships for an injury victim and the victim’s family, prosecutors are particularly aggressive and judges often are inclined to impose tough sentences in Texas intoxication assault cases.
Intoxication Assault & Defenses
Texas Penal Code §49.07 provides in pertinent part: A person commits an offense if the person, by accident or mistake, while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another.
While a conviction of intoxication assault can result in a lengthy term in Texas State Prison and other serious consequences, the prosecutor must prove three key issues: (1) that the accused was intoxicated; (2) that the intoxication caused the victim’s injury; and (3) that the injury victim suffered a “serious bodily injury.”
Challenging Intoxication (Attacking the Blood Test Results)
If a collision occurs where one of those involved in the crash suffers serious injury, law enforcement officers will typically take blood samples from the driver(s) in the crash. The lab work and blood sample must be carefully analyzed to uncover potential errors or sloppy procedures that may result in contamination of the sample or otherwise compromise the accuracy of the test result. Common types of mistakes that undermine the reliability of the blood test may include:
- Contamination from alcohol used to clean the injection site
- Failure to properly mix the blood sample with preservative and anticoagulant
- Test not conducted by a trained qualified professional
- Blood sample handled improperly or exposed to heat
- Lack of proper sanitation standards in the lab
- Improperly functioning lab equipment
- Mislabeled blood sample
While this is hardly a comprehensive list of all ways that blood testing can be challenged, our experienced Fort Worth intoxication assault attorneys carefully analyze the test results, procedures, chain of custody and lab procedures to establish that the DWI test results are unreliable. If there is not sufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you were committing DWI, you cannot be convicted of intoxication assault in Texas.
There are two aspects of causation that are relevant in defending against charges based on injuries caused in a DWI accident. The first type of causation concerns the driving conduct that led to the collision. Even if you were involved in a crash while you were DWI, this does not necessarily mean that you caused the car crash. Our DWI defense attorneys typically work closely with accident reconstruction experts to determine if another party’s driving or actions actually caused the collision. The other causation issue involves whether the collision was what caused the complainant’s injuries. Even if the injuries were not caused by the crash, these types of collisions also routinely lead to a civil lawsuit for damages which may motivate the injured party to distort the facts about the source and/or severity of injury. We use medical experts to analyze the facts, circumstances and medical records of the other party to address this issue.
No Serious Bodily Injury
Many people make the mistake of presuming that they will not be charged for intoxication assault because they are not arrested at the scene of the collision, and the driver in the other vehicle does not manifest any obvious injuries at the scene. If you find that you are in this situation, you should seek immediate legal advice because the other driver might well “discover” that he or she has suffered a serious bodily injury at some subsequence point in time.
For purposes of this section of the Texas Penal Code, serious bodily injury is defined as any personal injury that creates a substantial risk of death, significant permanent disfigurement or long-term impairment or loss of bodily functions or organs. While this means that a simple bruises or scratches are not sufficient, the injury victim might complain of other types of injuries at a later time that can result in a charge of intoxication assault if your blood test reveals that you were driving while intoxicated.
If you have been arrested for a DWI after an accident that results in serious bodily injury to another person, you may be charged with the third degree felony of intoxication assault. This type of offense carries a sentence of 2 to 10 years in Texas State Prison, 160 to 600 hours of community service and a fine up to $10,000. If you have no prior felony convictions, our experienced Forth Worth Intoxication Assault Attorneys might be able to seek probation.
When you retain one of our Fort Worth intoxication assault lawyers, we work diligently to defend your future from the time we are retained which might include filing motions to suppress evidence, seeking to exclude testimony and requesting dismissal of the charges. If your future is clouded by the specter of criminal charges of Intoxication Assault in Fort Worth, you need a team of Fort Worth DWI attorneys to defend your rights. Call the Fulgham Law Firm P.C. at 817-886-3078 to schedule a free confidential consultation with a former prosecutor and experienced Fort Worth DWI lawyer.