Being charged drunk driving in Texas is a scary prospect, even if no one was hurt in the process. If your drunk driving accident in Texas caused property damage or injury, the situation only becomes worse. Depending on the specifics of your case, you could be facing a felony offense involving jail time, expensive fines, and long-lasting restrictions on your driver’s license.
That said, not all DWIs involving accidents are weighed the same in Texas courts. Learn more about the specific penalties for DWI involving an accident in Texas, and the Texas DWI statistics that inform these tough laws.
Texas DWI statistics: drunk drivers by the numbers
Texas takes DWI charges very seriously, and one look at Texas’ DWI statistics shows why.
- There were 25,479 alcohol-related crashes on Texas roads in 2015 alone.15,687 of those crashes resulted in injury.
- On average, a Texan is involved in a DWI-related accident every 20 minutes.
- 2015 saw 1,323 DWI-related deaths in Texas alone.
- 38% of accident-related deaths in Texas involve alcohol.
The crazy part? DWI deaths and accidents have been decreasing in Texas for the past 10 years, and the Texas DWI statistics were still this bad! With a safety problem as costly as drunk driving accidents, it’s no wonder police officers and prosecutors are so aggressive about drunk driving accidents in Texas.
Texas DWI statistics: Drunk driving in Texas
Before we break down more specific scenarios, it’s important to understand the basics of DWI charges in Texas. In the state of Texas, a person can be charged with a DWI if they are caught operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. It must also be proven that the accused was intoxicated specifically at the time of the accident — a factor that isn’t always as cut and dry as you might expect.
That you were intoxicated at the time of the accident is very important to establish, because convicting someone of an alcohol-related crash or death requires that the prosecution first prove you were actually guilty of DWI.
Penalties for Alcohol-Related Crashes and Alcohol-Related Deaths in Texas
What the Texas DWI statistics can’t show you is the ongoing repercussions of drunk driving accidents in Texas. The potential penalties for a DWI charge increase when an accident is involved, even if it’s your first DWI offense in Texas. That said, the severity of the accident plays an important role in determining your charges and penalties.
- DWI involving property damage: If your DWI accident involves an object and not a person or their vehicle, consider yourself lucky. Hitting and damaging something like a wall or a mailbox will not actually enhance your DWI charge in Texas. Instead, you will be charged with a standard DWI (a Class B misdemeanor) and a seperate charge of reckless damage or destruction, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine. If convicted of the DWI, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device, pay a fine (the DWI cost in Texas is not cheap), live with a suspended driver’s license, and attend a DWI education program. You may also have to repay the property owner for the damage you caused, but that’s a small price to pay when the alternative could have been another person’s life.
- DWI involving injury: If alcohol-related crashes result in injury or serious bodily harm, charges could be upgraded to include intoxication assault, a 3rd-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, you may face a lawsuit from the injured individual requesting that you compensate them for their medical expenses.
- DWI resulting in death: Alcohol-related deaths in Texas are not treated lightly If your DWI-related accident resulted in one or more death, your charges will be upgraded to intoxication manslaughter in Texas, a second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If the person killed in your accident was a member of law enforcement, you’re upgraded to a 1st-degree felony, which could land you as much as 99 years in prison. Each person who dies in the accident adds another charge of intoxication manslaughter to your case, meaning more jail time if you’re convicted.
Don’t become a Texas DWI statistic. Get one of Dallas’ toughest DWI lawyers on your side.
If you or a loved one have been charged with DWI, intoxication assault, or even intoxication manslaughter, there could still be options for you and your case. In order to convict you of an enhanced DWI charge, the prosecution must prove not only that you were intoxicated, but that you were intoxicated specifically at the time of the accident.
With decades of combined experience as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney, Dallas DWI lawyer Doug Wilder knows precisely how to navigate the complexities of a DWI case, and will put that expertise to use to win you the best outcome of your case possible.
Make the best decision for you and your freedom — schedule a free consultation with The Wilder Firm today.