The State of Texas takes driving under the influence of alcohol very seriously, and for very good reasons – thousands of people are killed (and many more are injured) every year by drunk drivers. If you injure someone else while impaired behind the wheel, you could face charges of intoxication assault, which is a felony and carries much harsher penalties and fines than does a DWI. If you are facing intoxication assault charges, you need the professional legal counsel of an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney on your side.
Intoxication assault refers to accidentally or mistakenly hurting someone else (inflicting serious bodily injury) as a result of being intoxicated while operating a vehicle. In other words, the fact that you did not intend to hurt the injured party is not a defense, but the prosecution will need to show that the victim suffered serious bodily injury (as a result of your impairment) for intoxication assault to apply.
Serious Bodily Injury
The fact is that not all injuries qualify as serious bodily injuries. To reach the level of serious bodily injury, the injury must do one of the following:
- Create a substantial risk that the victim will die
- Cause serious permanent disfigurement
- Cause a protracted loss of – or impairment to – the function of any organ or any bodily system
If the injury in question does not rise to this level, you cannot be convicted of the intoxication assault charge.
Intoxication Assault Penalties
If you are convicted of intoxication assault, it is a felony of the third degree, and you face serious penalties that can include 2 to 10 years of jail time and up to $10,000 in fines. If the victim dies of the injuries sustained in the accident, you can face the more serious charge of intoxication manslaughter (a felony of the second degree).
Bringing Your Strongest Defense
If you face intoxication assault charges, you will want to work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your first line of defense is recording every detail of the incident that you can remember. This should include what happened immediately prior to the incident, who you were with, any circumstances – such as weather or poor visibility – that may have contributed to the accident in question, any medications you were on, and more. The more information you can supply your attorney, the better prepared he or she will be to build your strongest case.
While every intoxication assault case is unique to its own set of circumstances, there are several defense strategies that commonly apply, including:
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) was tested improperly, or your test was handled in a manner that influenced the results.
- A prescription medication adversely influenced your test results.
- The victim in question was actually injured by something other than your alleged impairment.
- The victim did not sustain a serious bodily injury.