Drunk driving accidents can have devastating consequences for the driver and the injured victim. The driver could face possible jail time with hefty penalties depending on the criminal charges, while the affected party may suffer serious injuries, adversely impacting their physical, mental, and financial state.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have helped DUI car accident victims by protecting their rights and fighting for the compensation they deserve.
Those who have suffered injuries in a DUI accident should contact the legal team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to discuss their case and learn more about their rights. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help answer questions like Can you go to jail for a car accident in Texas?
What Is a DUI in Texas?
In Texas, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in public while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If caught by the police officers, it can lead to criminal penalties, including potential jail time (county jail or state prison), fines, or a combination of both alongside DWI consequences, such as license suspension and probation period.
Those who are facing jail time due to drunk driving must reach out to an experienced DUI lawyer to protect their rights and fight criminal charges in court. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can answer more questions like What if I black out and cause a car accident?
What Happens If My DUI Resulted in a Car Accident with Serious Bodily Injury?
Under the Texas Penal Code § 49.07, if a DUI accident results in serious bodily injury, it could lead to intoxication assault charges, which is a third-degree felony.
The state law defines a serious bodily injury as an injury with a greater risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or leading to a loss of limb or organs.
A third-degree felony in Houston, Texas, is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and a hefty fine (up to $10,000).
Suppose the DUI accident results in a traumatic brain injury or injuries to an on-duty emergency medical services personnel. In that case, the offense changes from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. This may be punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
The offense is even more serious if the victim is an on-duty peace officer or a judge. In that situation, the DUI accident may result in a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 100 of years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
To ensure a DUI conviction, the prosecutor has the burden of proof to prove the following:
The driver was driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol; and
The drunk driving accident caused another person to suffer a serious bodily injury.
What Are the Consequences of a DUI Accident Resulting in Another's Death?
Drunk driving car accidents can lead to serious injuries for the victims, and in some cases, it can result in death. If a drunk driver crashes their vehicle, causing a loss of life, they may face severe consequences.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.08, the prosecutor will charge the drunk driver with intoxication manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony in the state. The punishment for such a crime is as follows:
Between two and 20 years of imprisonment; and
Up to $10,000 in fines.
What Are the Consequences of a Drunk Driving Accident That Results in Property Damage in Texas?
There is no separate statute in the Texas Penal Code that addresses property damage resulting from driving under the influence.
Under the law, property damage arising from drunk driving could lead to two different charges: a DWI charge and a reckless damage charge.
The Texas Penal Code § 28.04 defines a reckless damage charge as an act that involves substantial risk, and the perpetrator engages in such activities despite knowing the risks.
If anyone in Texas is involved in an accident due to drunk driving that results in property damage, they must pay a fine of up to $500, along with the penalties associated with a DWI offense. The criminal charges may also include paying restitution to the property owner.
What Are the Penalties for Causing a Drunk Driving Accident Before Fleeing the Scene?
In most of the states in the country, including Texas, if a driver causes an accident, they are legally required to stay at the scene of the incident, exchange information, and provide assistance to the injured party.
Causing a car accident in Texas and fleeing the scene is commonly referred to as a hit-and-run, which can be a second or third-degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.
If a drunk driver helps cause an accident in Texas and leaves the scene, resulting in the injured party's death, the law may treat the crime as a second-degree felony. It's punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
In cases involving a drunk driver causing serious bodily injury before leaving the accident scene, the law may treat the crime as a third-degree felony. This type of offense is often punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
A DUI hit-and-run accident resulting in property damage of $200 or more is a Class B misdemeanor, for which the offender may face up to 180 days in jail, a maximum fine of $2,000, or a combination of both.
In cases involving a DUI hit-and-run accident that results in property damage of less than $200, the law treats the crime as a Class C misdemeanor. Under the Texas Penal Code, the penalty for such an offense is a $500 fine.
Besides the penalties for a hit and run, the drunk driver may also face DWI consequences, such as driver's license suspension (up to six months or more) and a probation period between three to five years. If convicted, the driver may also have to install an ignition interlock device from an approved provider.
When Does a Police Officer Require a Chemical Test?
If a police officer believes that a driver is driving while intoxicated, they may pull them over and request them to take a chemical test. It helps them determine whether the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Fortunately, a driver has the right to refuse a chemical test.
However, if the officer pulls over a driver who they believe is under the influence of alcohol or drugs after they've committed an accident, they may get a search warrant to carry out the chemical test.
There are certain situations where a law enforcement officer may require the driver to submit a specimen, and these include the following:
When a police officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver was driving while intoxicated after they caused an accident resulting in the loss of life; or
When a law enforcement officer believes that the driver caused a DUI car accident resulting in a serious bodily injury.
Can the Injured Victim Recover Compensation for a DUI Accident in Texas?
Although a DUI accident can result in criminal charges, the injured victim may be able to pursue civil action against the offender to recover the damages incurred.
It's best for the affected party to reach out to an experienced auto accident attorney to discuss the case and learn more about their legal rights.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help Recover the Damages after a DUI Accident
Those who have suffered injuries in DUI accidents in Houston, Texas, should call to schedule a free consultation with experienced personal injury attorneys, as they may be eligible for compensation.