What if I Hurt Someone While Drunk Driving?

In Texas and throughout the United States, driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is a serious problem and it happens every day. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, “About every 20 minutes in Texas, someone is hurt or killed in a crash involving alcohol.” This is because alcohol affects people’s ability to drive safely because too much can lead to dizziness, loss of muscle coordination, poor judgement, reckless behavior, loss of balance, blurred vision, and unconsciousness – all of which are dangerous behind the wheel!

Since alcohol affects motor skills, focus and concentration, impaired individuals are frequently causing accidents, striking bicyclists and pedestrians, and injuring their own passengers. The question is, what happens if you hurt someone while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs? The crime is called “intoxication assault” and it’s covered under Section 49.07 of the Texas Penal Code.

Penalties for Intoxication Assault

Intoxication assault is different than “intoxication manslaughter” because it does not involve taking another person’s life, so it is a less serious offense in the eyes of the law. You commit the offense of intoxication assault if while impaired by drugs or alcohol, you cause serious bodily injury to another person.

Under Sec. 49.07, “serious bodily injury” means:

  • An injury that involves a substantial risk of death.
  • An injury that involves serious permanent disfigurement.
  • An injury that causes protracted impairment or loss of an organ or body part.

If you cause an accident while intoxicated and you accidentally injure someone else, you could be charged with intoxication assault. There are many types of injuries that would be serious enough to meet the requirements under Sec. 49.07, even if the victim eventually made a full recovery. Even losing a finger or breaking both legs would be serious enough for the at-fault driver to face intoxication assault charges.

Generally, intoxication assault is prosecuted as a third-degree felony, punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000, and by 2 to 10 years in prison.

Related: FAQs About Texas DWI

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