What Happens When an Alleged DWI Crash Causes Property Damage?

Posted by Doug Murphy | Apr 16, 2023 | 0 Comments

When you're involved in a suspected DWI crash, you might expect that property damage can happen. You could damage your car or other cars on the road. But sometimes, property on the side of the road can also face substantial damage. That's what an Austin homeowner discovered recently.

Drunk Driver Crashes into Austin Home

In January of this year, a drunk driver crashed into an Austin house at 2:30 in the morning. Thankfully, the car landed in an unoccupied guest bedroom, but the crash caused a great deal of damage to the home. After rescue crews extricated the driver, police arrested him for DWI. News articles indicated that the driver's insurance company would cover the damages. However, this indicates the type of collateral damage you or your insurance company could be responsible for after a DWI crash.

In a bizarre turn of events, the property owner received a letter from the city detailing code violations due to the state of his house. The letter was dated the day of the crash and threatened fines if the homeowner didn't remedy the situation within 30 days. Fortunately, the city indicated it would allow the homeowner additional repair time.

Driver Responsibility for Property Damage

If the police arrest you for DWI and cite you for a related accident, you could be held responsible for the costs of any property damage that occurs, whether to other vehicles, a home, property by the side of the road, or state or local property like road signs and other structures. You could also potentially face charges for criminal mischief or reckless damage in addition to your DWI charges.

1. Criminal Mischief

Police can charge criminal mischief as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the crash. Texas's statute is broad and can cover reckless or intentional behavior that damages property. Criminal mischief can range from a Class C misdemeanor to felony charges.

2. Reckless Damage

In Texas, reckless damage happens when “[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). It is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine.

Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Defense

If you're facing a DWI with additional property charges or potential financial obligations for property damage, you need an expert in DWI defense by your side. Attorney Doug Murphy is an expert in Criminal Defense Law and DWI Defense and is well-versed in handling complex DWI cases. Doug is one of only two Texas attorneys Board Certified in both DWI and Criminal Defense Law.

Recently Best Lawyers in America from U.S. News and World Report named Doug a “Lawyer of the Year” for 2023 Houston DWI Defense. Doug and the skilled team at the Doug Murphy Law Firm have been helping Texans with DWI charges for years, and they can help you too. Call them at 713-229-8333 or contact them online to schedule your consultation.

About the Author

Doug Murphy

Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and also in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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