Sometimes, a car crash can end tragically, especially if the driver attempts to evade the police. A recent deadly crash demonstrates how police chases can sometimes end.
Police Chase in North Houston
The chase began when police attempted to pull over a car driving without headlights, suspecting the driver might be impaired. According to officers, the car initially slowed down but then sped off, trying to avoid the stop, and lost the police. When police caught up to the driver, he had crashed into a pole on West Montgomery Road off Ella Boulevard. Fortunately, there were no passengers, but the driver was deceased.
DWI in Texas
Driving while intoxicated in Texas means that you:
- No longer have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties, or
- You have a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of .08%, or .04% if you are driving a commercial vehicle with a commercial driver's license.
But a DWI in Texas doesn't require that you have a BAC over the legal limit. The police can also arrest you if they believe you no longer have your normal mental or physical faculties while driving. This is a highly subjective standard and can lead to an arrest simply based on your performance during questioning and road sobriety tests. There are many reasons you might fail a field sobriety test that aren't related to alcohol consumption. If you have a medical condition, are disabled or elderly, have poor balance or coordination, or have a speech or hearing impediment, the police can wrongly interpret your behavior as evidence of intoxication.
If you damage property or someone else is injured during a crash while you're suspected of driving while intoxicated, you could also face charges for the property damage, intoxication assault, or intoxication manslaughter.
- Property Damage
If a crash involves damaged property while the police suspect you of driving while intoxicated, you can also face charges of reckless damage or destruction of property or criminal mischief, in addition to DWI charges. The property damage could include crashing into a tree, a pole like the driver we discussed above, another car, or a house or business. A conviction for reckless damage or destruction of property is a Class C misdemeanor, and you could face a $500 fine and restitution for the value of the damaged property.
However, criminal mischief charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Criminal mischief involves “intentionally or knowingly” causing damage to someone else's tangible property. A court may interpret your actions as intentional if you drove while intoxicated, knowing the likely result. So, if a court finds you guilty of DWI, it could also find you guilty of criminal mischief related to the property damage.
- Intoxication Assault
You could face charges for intoxication assault and DWI if someone suffers “serious bodily injury” during the crash. The victim could be a pedestrian, passenger or driver in another car, or a passenger in your car. The state must prove all the elements of the crime, including that you were:
- A motor vehicle,
- While intoxicated,
- In a public place.
- Intoxication Manslaughter
You could face charges for intoxication manslaughter if someone died as a result of the recklessness occurring while you were driving while intoxicated. The criminal code doesn't require intent to harm or kill someone for a charge of intoxication manslaughter, only driving while intoxicated that results in the death of another person. Intoxication manslaughter is a felony in Texas, with serious penalties. That's why you must hire an expert in DWI defense as soon as possible to ensure the best possible outcome.
What to Do When You See Flashing Lights
Clients often ask what they should do when the police pull them over for a suspected DWI or traffic stop. You should never attempt to flee or avoid the police. Doing so could result in more serious charges such as evading arrest or cause a tragic accident. Instead:
- Comply: Comply with a police officer's demands to the best of your ability. Pull your vehicle over promptly as soon as it's safe.
- Be polite: Even if you believe an officer is pulling you over on a pretext for something else, be polite and respectful.
- Know your rights: You don't have to give the police any information besides your identifying information. You can be polite while remembering that the officer is not your friend. Please don't give them information that might incriminate you.
- Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty: Just because the police arrest you for DWI does not mean a court will find you guilty.
The most important thing you can do after a DWI arrest is call an expert in DWI defense like attorney Doug Murphy. He can work to protect your rights and your reputation from the very beginning.
You Need an Expert in DWI Defense
When you're facing DWI charges after a serious crash, a conviction can carry serious consequences. That's why you need an expert in DWI defense who can handle complex DWI cases, particularly those involving additional charges for property damage or injuries. Attorney Doug Murphy is one of only two attorneys in Texas who is an expert in DWI Defense and Criminal Defense Law. Doug is Board Certified in both of these complex areas of the law and is well respected by his clients, judges, and fellow attorneys. In fact, Best Lawyers in America recently named Doug a 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” for DWI defense in Houston.
Doug Murphy and his skilled team have years of experience as both prosecutors and defense attorneys, ensuring they know exactly what prosecutors will try to throw at you. You'll know that Doug and his team will vigorously protect your rights and advocate and negotiate aggressively on your behalf. Give the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. a call today at 713-229-8333 and find out how they can help. Or contact them online to schedule a consultation.