In short, intoxication assault is a felony in Texas that occurs when a driver of a motor vehicle operates the vehicle in a public place and causes serious bodily harm to another through mistake or accident. This can be confusing to some as the term “assault” can mean something vastly different in other jurisdictions.
In many jurisdictions the term “assault” means placing an individual in the fear of imminent unwanted contact at common law and in many state statutes. In most States it does not even have to include the actual touching itself. The actual touching is often considered battery. Intoxication assault, however, is an exception to this rule.
Elements of Intoxication Assault
To convict someone of intoxication assault in Texas, the prosecutor must show that:
- The charged person operated a motor vehicle (or watercraft, aircraft or amusement ride);
- The operator drove while intoxicated;
- The accident occurred in a public place; and
- By reason of the intoxication, the operator caused serious bodily injury to another.
On its face, it seems fairly simple; however, proving the prima facia case can be a complex process. There are ultimately five separate elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The first is the easiest to prove, provided the offender is found behind the wheel of the vehicle.
However, proving the accused was the operator is not necessarily as simple as it sounds. If there are no witnesses to the incident, it can be difficult to demonstrate who was behind the wheel at the time of the incident.
Proving the operator was intoxicated at the time of the accident requires the same proof as the intoxication portion of DWI. This can be done in three ways in Texas: by showing that the operator’s blood alcohol content was .08% or higher; the operator did not have the normal use of physical faculties; or the operator did not have the normal use of mental faculties.
The latter two apply when chemical testing is refused or when the chemical test does not requester a blood alcohol level over .08%. Of course, as with any DWI charge, the police must have probable cause of DWI to require testing of an individual before they may proceed.
Proving that the accident happened in a public place is also relatively easy in many cases. However, complications can arise in certain instances. For example, if you are backing out of your driveway and strike a car on the street while still in your driveway, questions may arise as to whether this is a public place.
Next, the prosecutor must demonstrate that your intoxication caused the accident. This can be problematic at times; for example if the car that was being driven had faulty brakes, then the prosecution will have difficulty proving that the accident was caused by the intoxication.
Finally, serious bodily injury must have occurred. This is defined as an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, or that causes serious disfigurement or the loss of function of an organ.
Penalties for Intoxication Assault
Intoxication assault in Texas is generally a third degree felony punishable by a minimum of two years in prison with a maximum of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
This can be enhanced to a second-degree felony if the person injured is a peace officer, a firefighter or a emergency medical service personnel. A second-degree felony is punishable by a minimum of two years in prison with a maximum of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Brazoria DWI Lawyer
As you can see, intoxication assault is a serious charge in Texas. You need to protect your life and rights with serious representation. The skilled litigation professionals at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates are here to help you if you need to talk with a DWI lawyer for a case set to be heard in Brazoria County.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today for your legal defense.