Earlier this summer a Harris County Sheriff's deputy was arrested on suspicion of DWI when she drove her car into wet cement. According to reports, the deputy was driving at approximately 11 PM on a Tuesday evening when she ran through construction barrels. She was able to drive the vehicle more than 100 feet before it became lodged in the wet cement. A forklift was required to remove the deputy's vehicle from the construction zone after she was able to get out. The estimated cost of the damage caused by the accident is approximately $2 million dollars.
The deputy was arrested for her second DWI when she failed a field sobriety test. She later admitted in court that she had consumed at least four large beers before getting into her vehicle that night. In addition to criminal charges for her second DWI, the deputy can also face criminal charges for property damage caused by the accident.
DWI Accidents Causing Property Damage
DWIs are taken very seriously in Texas. The stakes can become even greater when a DWI involves an accident. When a DWI accident causes property damage, drivers can face criminal charges in addition to those for DWI. Possible charges can include reckless damage and criminal mischief.
Reckless damage, a Class C Misdemeanor, occurs when a person “damages or destroys property” while consciously disregarding substantial and unjustifiable risks of their behavior. Penalties for reckless damage can include a fine of $500.
Criminal mischief, which can be a misdemeanor or a felony, occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally damages property of another person. Behavior can be described as “knowing” when a person knows or is reasonably certain that their actions will cause a particular result.
The specific property damage charges a driver will face will really depend on their intent and state of mind at the time of the incident. In most cases, reckless damage charges are reserved for accidents that cause minor damage and are the result of behavior that rises just above that of negligence. Criminal mischief, however, is used when a driver exhibits intentions and behaviors that clearly create a dangerous situation. Criminal mischief may also be used as a criminal charge when the extent of the damage to property is significant.
Since the Harris County Sheriff's deputy reportedly caused $2 million in property damage, she may face charges for criminal mischief. Criminal mischief causing property damage in excess of $350,000 is a First-Degree felony. If the state does not believe that the deputy exhibited behavior that could be classified as “intentional” or “knowing,” however, she would likely be charged with reckless damage.
Get Help Fighting Your Harris County DWI
Were you arrested for DWI in Harris County after you were involved in an accident? If so, it's important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today. We are here to help you fight to protect your future.