Intoxication Assault / DWI with Serious Bodily Injury
Under Texas law, if an incident of DWI causes another person to suffer from any serious bodily injury, then the crime can be charged as intoxication assault. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony in Texas. When a DWI results in serious bodily injury the prosecutors and judges are particularly harsh.
The impact to the victim and their family are enormous. The State of Texas will use their resources to prosecute these crimes aggressively. You also need an experienced felony DWI attorney to fight the charges aggressively. Driving after drinking an alcoholic beverage is not a crime. Law enforcement officers often make mistakes in determining whether a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, particular at the scene of a traffic crash.
Houston Intoxication Assault Attorney
Horak Law represents individuals charged with serious drunk driving offenses including felony intoxication assault in Houston for Harris County and in The Woodlands for Montgomery County, Texas.
Although Matt Horak created this website to provide you with general information about this specific criminal offense, no substitute exists for speaking directly with a criminal defense attorney in Houston about everything that happened in your case.
DWI with Serious Bodily Injury
Texas Penal Code Section 49.07 provides, in 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....
Texas law also defines the term "serious bodily injury" as any personal injury which causes a protracted impairment or loss of the function of any organ or bodily member, or creates a substantial risk of death. In some cases, the charge of felony intoxication assault can result even though at the time of the accident it does not appear that the victim's injuries were serious.
Intoxication Assault Penalties
Texas law provides for certain punishments and penalties that must be imposed after a conviction for intoxication assault including the following:
- Incarceration - After a conviction for intoxication assault, the Court is required to impose a prison term of not less than two (2) years in the Texas State Prison (Texas Department of Criminal Justice Penitentiary), although the court is permitted to impose a prison sentence of up to 10 years behind bars;
- Probation - If you are convicted of intoxication assault, the court must impose a minimum of 30 days in the county jail which must be served as a condition of probation. If the court or jury finds that you used a deadly weapon to commit the offense then you may be completely ineligible to receive any kind of a probationary sentence;
- Community Service Hours - Texas law provides that the court must impose at least 160 hours of community service to any probationary term, but the court is permitted to impose up to 600 hours of community service; and
- Fine - A fine of up to $10,000.00.
DWI Blood Tests after a Crash Involving Serious Bodily Injury
In many cases, the law enforcement officers that investigate the crash involving serious bodily injury will require the driver of each vehicle to submit to a blood test. Additionally, if the individual goes to the emergency room for treatment, the hospital will obtain blood for standard testings which include determining the alcohol content of the blood.
Your criminal defense attorney may be able to fight for the exclusion of the results of the blood test if it shows that alcohol or drugs were present in your system after the accident. The results of a blood test should be analyzed carefully through independent testing which can show whether serious flaws were present during the initial testing.
Filing and Litigating Motions to Suppress, Exclude, or Dismiss
Matt Horak believes that the best way to fight serious DWI charges, including intoxication assault, often requires filing motions to suppress evidence, motions to exclude certain testimony, and motions to dismiss the criminal charges. Contact Matt Horak's office to schedule a consultation to discuss this serious felony DWI criminal charge and possible defenses that can be asserted prior to any trial in the case.
Protecting Your Rights after an Accident Involving Serious Bodily Injury
In some cases, the law enforcement officers may delay making an arrest for DWI or Intoxication Assault until after they obtain the results of the blood test. If you suspect that you are under investigation for DWI involving a serious bodily injury, then contact an attorney immediately. Never speak with any law enforcement officer about a criminal investigation until you have obtained an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interest.
You should also be aware of the indirect consequences of a DWI arrest involving a traffic crash that causes serious bodily injury. The injured person will almost always retain the services of a Houston personal injury attorney in order to collect money damages. Many of these personal attorneys in Houston DWI cases will take the case on a contingency basis meaning that they are paid out of any settlement or judgment after trial.
In many of these cases, the other driver may deny having any injury at the scene only to make a claim for injuries in the weeks or months following the accident. Questionable claims often involve soft tissue damage or whiplash. Never talk to an insurance adjuster about how the accident occurred. Instead, let your criminal defense attorney assist you in dealing with any pending civil lawsuit.
Causation in Intoxication Assault Cases
A person commits the offense of intoxication assault if, by accident or mistake, while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication he causes serious bodily injury to another. See Tex. Penal Code § 49.07(a).
A person is “intoxicated” if he does not have the normal use of his mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body, or by having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. See id. § 49.01(2)(A), (B).
Under the Texas Penal Code, “[a] person is criminally responsible if the result would not have occurred but for his conduct, operating either alone or concurrently with another cause, unless the concurrent cause was clearly sufficient to produce the result and the conduct of the actor clearly insufficient.” Id. § 6.04(a).
To prove causation for intoxication assault, the State is required to prove the defendant's intoxication, not just his operation of the vehicle, caused the accident. See, e.g., Hardie v. State, 588 S.W.2d 936, 939 (Tex.Crim.App.1979); Wooten v. State, 267 S.W.3d 289, 296 (Tex.App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, pet. ref'd).
In many of these cases, the prosecutor with the District Attorney’s office must prove the causal connection between the driver’s intoxication and the victim’s serious bodily injuries. See Shelby v. State, 03-10-00283-CR, 2013 WL 4822872 (Tex. App. Aug. 28, 2013), petition for discretionary review granted (Jan. 15, 2014). Whether such a causal connection exists is a question for the jury's determination. Id. A jury may draw reasonable inferences regarding the ultimate facts from basic facts, although circumstantial evidence may be used to establish a causal connection. Id.
For charges of intoxication assault, section 6.04(a) of the Penal Code refers to “but for” causation that must be established between a defendant's conduct and the resulting harm. In cases with causes for the crash that occurred at the same time, the “but for” requirement is satisfied when either:
- the defendant's conduct is sufficient by itself to have caused the harm, or
- the defendant's conduct coupled with another cause is sufficient to have caused the harm. Id.
If the additional cause, other than the defendant's conduct, is clearly sufficient, by itself, to produce the result and the defendant's conduct, by itself, is clearly insufficient, then the defendant cannot be convicted. Id.
Horak Law | Texas Intoxication Assault Defense Attorney
The injured driver will often have aggressive representation for any civil lawsuit. The prosecutor has the resources of the State of Texas at its disposal. You also need an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to make sure your rights are protected.
If the arrest has already occurred, be aware that Texas law provides for certain deadlines in asserting particular defenses. Obtaining the help of an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney quickly after an arrest is important to preserving all of your rights to aggressively defend yourself against the serious felony DWI charge of intoxication assault in Houston, The Woodlands, or the surrounding areas of Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Liberty County, or Waller County.
Call Horak Law locally at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 right now to schedule a confidential consultation that will let Matt Horak review your case and discuss all of your legal options.