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Why Fleeing the Scene after a DWI Crash is Never a Good Idea

 Posted on May 05, 2023 in Uncategorized

Accidents happen. Sooner or later, all of us will be in a motor vehicle accident. But if you've had a drink or two, you may be concerned that you could face heightened scrutiny from the police. While that may be true, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in Texas. If you leave the scene, even if you haven't been drinking, you could face criminal charges.

If the police do arrest you for DWI or leaving the scene of an accident, the good news is that this isn't something you have to figure out on your own. Call an experienced DWI defense attorney like attorney Doug Murphy. They can help you from the beginning, protecting your rights and advising you on your options and the possible ramifications of a DWI conviction.

Man Attempted to Leave San Antonio Crash

A good example of what not to do comes from a crash in February of 2023 in San Antonio. Police arrested a man after a crash in the 3600 block of Roosevelt Avenue. The victim was attempting to turn left. When she stopped to turn with her blinker on, a San Antonio man crashed into the back of her car, pushing it into a nearby parking lot. The man reportedly then made a sharp left turn, ran into a grassy area, and ran into a telephone pole. Witnesses say he exited his car and attempted to walk away without checking on the victim. Police arrived, found the suspect, and arrested him after determining that he was intoxicated. Police also reported that the man had two prior convictions for DWI.

Fleeing the Scene of an Accident in Texas

If you have a crash in Texas that results in property damage, damage to another vehicle, or an injury, you mustremain at the scene of the accident. You should provide your name and information to anyone involved in the accident and assist if needed. See Tex. Transp. Code § 550.022 (2005). You must also stop if you cause damage to a home or government property like a city or state. "structure, fixture, or highway landscaping." Tex. Transp. Code § 550.025 (2017).

If you leave the scene of an accident that resulted in injuries or property damage, it is a Class B or Class C misdemeanor. The grade of the charge will depend on the amount of damage. A Class C misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to $500 in fines in Texas, while a Class B misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

Additional Potential Charges from a DWI Accident

In addition to charges for leaving the scene of a DWI accident, you could also face additional charges related to the accident, depending on the circumstances, the damage, and whether anyone was injured or killed.

  • Driving While Intoxicated Driving while intoxicated can result in serious penalties in Texas. A first DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a $3,000 fine, and a mandatory $3,000 administrative fine. The judge may also require that you complete community service, alcohol treatment, a safe driving class, and install an interlock device on your vehicle.
  • Reckless Damage Reckless damage happens if you commit an offense that recklessly damages someone else's property. Texas law defines reckless damage as "[a] person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, he recklessly damages or destroys property of the owner." Tex. Pen. Code § 28.04 (1994). Reckless damage is a third-degree misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
  • Criminal Mischief The police may charge you with Criminal mischief if you "intentionally or knowingly" damage property. While this definition is broad, it can apply to a DWI crash because most reasonable people understand that driving while intoxicated could lead to a crash. The statute applies to any reckless or intentional action that damages someone's property. Criminal mischief can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the dollar value of the damage from the accident, with charges ranging from a misdemeanor with no potential jail time to up to ten years for a third-degree felony conviction.
  • Intoxication Assault If your DWI crash results in a "serious bodily injury" to another person, you may face charges for intoxication assault. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Intoxication Manslaughter If someone dies due to your DWI crash, you could face charges for intoxication manslaughter. Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony, and a conviction is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Defense

The consequences can be serious if you're facing a DWI charge in Houston, particularly if you're also facing additional charges related to the crash or fleeing the scene of an accident. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you could be facing felony charges. That's why you shouldn't try to deal with your charges alone. You need to discuss your case with an expert in DWI Defense as soon as possible after your arrest. An experienced defense attorney can evaluate your case, ensuring your rights are protected every step of the way.

Attorney Doug Murphy is a Board Certified expert in both DWI Defense and Criminal Defense Law in Texas, holding state certifications for both of these complex specialties. Doug and the skilled team at the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. have been defending Texans from DWI charges for decades and have years of experience handling complex DWI cases. In fact, U.S. News and World Report's Best Lawyers in America recently named Doug a "Lawyer of the Year" for DWI defense in Houston, Texas in 2021 and 2023.

Doug and his team at the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. have the experience and expertise necessary to ensure you get the best possible results after a Texas charge for DWI. Find out what they can do for you. Give the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. a call at 713-229-8333 or contact them online to schedule your consultation.

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