Driving while intoxicated can have a number of potential consequences in Texas. Those consequences are compounded if, while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, you cause serious bodily injury to another person while operating a car, boat, or plane.
A charge of intoxication assault can elevate a misdemeanor first-time DWI to a felony that can land you in prison with hefty fines. Injuries that were caused by a complete accident can lead to felony charges if alcohol or drugs were involved. A knowledgeable Texas intoxication assault attorney can help you fight against criminal charges to avoid time behind bars and a criminal record.
What is Intoxication Assault Under Texas Law?
To convict you of intoxication assault under Texas law, the prosecutor must show that:
- 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
- As a result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated causes serious bodily injury to another.
For the purposes of a charge of intoxication assault, “serious bodily injury” includes any injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of a body function or organ. This can include everything from broken bones and scarring to permanent paralysis.
Potential Punishment for Intoxication Assault
Pursuant to the Texas Penal Code, intoxication assault is a felony of the third degree. The punishment range is as follows:
- An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years.
- In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
In addition to incarceration and fines, you will also face a driver's license suspension between 180 days and 2 years. If your driving privileges are ever reinstated, the state may also require you to use an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
Finally, the fact that intoxication assault is a felony can greatly impact your life. A felony conviction can limit your opportunities for housing and employment. You will also lose the right to vote or own a firearm.
Defenses for Intoxication Assault in Texas
Many of the defenses to an intoxication assault charge are similar to the defenses of a DWI charge. Ultimately, the state must show that you were both intoxicated as well as responsible for the serious bodily injury of another while driving, boating, or even flying.
Proof that you were intoxicated is key for a conviction for intoxication assault. Typically, the strongest evidence of intoxication comes from blood, breath, or urine tests that reflect your blood alcohol concentration. The legal BAC limit for driving is .08. However, for the result of your blood, breath, or urine tests to be admissible in court the state must follow certain protocols to show that they have not been tainted or tampered with.
For breath testing, admissibility may depend on properly calibrated breathalyzer machines. For blood and urine samples, the prosecutor must show that the samples were collected following state guidelines to avoid contamination. The state must show the chain of custody was intact so that every moment of the sample's time in police hands is accounted for. An experienced intoxication assault attorney knows the questions to ask of the state's experts to determine if these guidelines were followed.
Even if the state is able to prove you were intoxicated by drugs or alcohol at the time of the alleged incident, there are several other issues they must prove to gain a conviction for intoxication assault. First, the state has to show that you were either piloting a boat, flying a plane, driving a car on a public road, or operating an amusement ride at the time you were intoxicated and when the injury occurred. Your attorney may be able to show a jury that someone else was driving your vehicle at the time of the injury, or that your vehicle was parked and no one was operating the vehicle at all.
An attorney might also be able to show a jury that this is a case of mistaken identity. People are mistakenly identified every day, and compelling evidence that you were not the one responsible for the serious bodily injury might go a long way towards earning an acquittal.
Finally, the standard for “serious bodily injury” is both specific and subjective. It is the job of your attorney to show that any injuries involved in an intoxication assault case rise to the level of a serious bodily injury. Even if every other element of the crime is met, you may be found not guilty if your attorney can prove that the injuries didn't leave lasting impairment or carry a substantial risk of death.
Finding the Right Texas Intoxication Assault Attorney
A single mistake can alter the course of your life. If you have been charged with intoxication assault in the Odessa, Texas area, it is critical that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your defense options. The Law Office of E. Jason Leach is ready to discuss your case with you and help build the strongest defense possible. E. Jason Leach is an experienced criminal defense attorney.
A board-certified expert in criminal defense, E. Jason Leach has dedicated his practice exclusively to defending the constitutional rights of the accused. You deserve a defense attorney who is singularly focused on criminal defense. The prosecutors bringing the case against you focus exclusively on criminal law, and E. Jason Leach believes that he is able to provide his clients with the best representation by doing the same. To discuss your case with the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, contact the firm today to set up your free consultation.