A fatal accident in Houston involving a drunk driver is an excellent example of how a single incident of driving while intoxicated (DWI) can quickly amass numerous criminal allegations, each one more severe than the last.
Drunk Driver in Fatal Crash With Lyft Car
On March 1, 2019, a 21-year-old driver ran through an intersection and hit a Lyft vehicle. The Lyft passenger was killed in the collision. The driver was seriously hurt with life-threatening injuries that have put him in a coma.
When police responded to the scene, the driver admitted to having several shots of tequila before getting into his car. Blood alcohol content (BAC) tests found him to be more than three times over the legal limit.
Prosecutors are now charging the driver with intoxication assault for hurting the Lyft driver as well as intoxication manslaughter for killing the passenger. Those charges come on top of the underlying charge for DWI.
Intoxication Assault in Houston
Texas Penal Code § 49.07 outlines the offense of intoxication assault, also known as DWI with a serious bodily injury, in Texas. Intoxication assault involves much of the same evidence in a typical DWI charge. However, there is an additional element to the offense: There has to be a “serious bodily injury.” § 49.07(1)(b) defines a “serious bodily injury” as one that “creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
Should the prosecutor prove that this happened, a defendant can face from two to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for a third-degree felony. If the “serious bodily injury” is one that leads to a vegetative state – as seems possible in this particular case – then the offense is a second-degree felony that carries a maximum jail sentence of 20 years, rather than ten.
Additionally, Texas Penal Code § 49.08 defines the offense of intoxication manslaughter. This statute prohibits driving while intoxicated and causing the death of someone else through that intoxication. Intoxication manslaughter is also a second-degree felony, carrying fines of up to $10,000 and a jail sentence of between two and 20 years.
DWI Defense Lawyer Doug Murphy Serves Houston Area
When an alleged DWI incident ends with a crash that seriously hurts other drivers, the potential penalties mount up very quickly. In this case, the driver could be facing between 30 and 40 years of jail time, depending on whether the Lyft driver survives and emerges from the vegetative state that he was in soon after the crash. That is on top of the penalties for the underlying DWI offense, which could add even more penalties to the mix, especially considering the offense would likely be aggravated by the high BAC reading.
These penalties just highlight the need for a skilled DWI defense lawyer if you have been accused of drunk driving and causing an accident. Doug Murphy defends against DWI allegations in Houston. Contact him online or call his law office at (713) 229-8333 for the help you need.