We hear about “cold cases” in the media, movies, and TV. But in reality, cold cases aren't as easily solved as in a 45-minute TV show. According to the Houston Police Department, a case becomes cold when “all probative investigative leads available to the primary investigators are exhausted and the case remains open and unsolved after a period of three years.” In many cases, the police won't continue to pursue an unsolved crime if it isn't a serious felony. But what about DWIs? Will the police continue to pursue an unsolved DWI crime?
Pursuing a Cold DWI in Texas?
Typically, a DWI is not a serious enough crime for the police to pursue if they don't immediately catch the driver. For example, if someone calls in an erratic driver on the interstate and the police suspect DWI but don't find the driver, they're unlikely to continue pursuing the tip. However, under some circumstances, such as if a potential drunk driver causes an accident that seriously injures or kills someone, the police will continue to pursue it, even if it becomes a cold case.
I had an accident and was transported to the hospital
Many times people have an accident after they have been drinking and are transported to the hospital due to injuries before they are interviewed by police. Do you think you are free and clear or off the hook? Don't be so over confident. Wrecker drivers, EMTs, nurses and police officers all collaborate and they will inform police officers when a person has consumed alcohol. When a person arrives at the hospital and is treated for injuries, the hospital will do a blood draw to get a clinical picture for diagnosis purposes. One of the many items checked during the blood test is your blood alcohol level. The enzymatic test used to analyze the blood is not reliable for forensic purposes, but it can be enough for a prosecutor to pursue a "to be" arrest warrant to issue for you for a charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI). The police will cause a grand jury subpoena or search warrant to issue for your medical records, and/or residual blood vials to be forensically analyzed.
Intoxication assault happens if someone driving in a public place while intoxicated causes an accident that results in serious bodily injury to another person. “Serious bodily injury” is an injury that “creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” Tex. Pen. Code § 49.07(1)(b) (2007). Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony, carrying penalties of two to ten years in prison. The crime can rise to a second-degree felony if the injury results in a vegetative state or involves a first responder like a police officer or firefighter, with penalties from two to twenty years in prison.
Intoxication manslaughter happens in concert with a DWI if driving intoxicated causes an accident that results in the death of another person. Intoxication manslaughter is a separate charge from a DWI and is typically a second-degree felony. A conviction for a second-degree felony is punishable by two to twenty years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If you're involved in an accident that kills someone, the police will continue to pursue it using every means possible. While they may not be able to prove intoxication long after the accident, you could still face vehicular manslaughter charges, additional charges, and more severe penalties for leaving the scene.
Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Law
If you're facing potential DWI and intoxication assault, manslaughter, or vehicular manslaughter charges, this is a serious matter, and you need an expert in criminal defense by your side. Attorney Doug Murphy is an expert in both Texas DWI Defense and Criminal Defense Law and is well-versed in handling complex DWI and criminal cases. In fact, Doug is one of only two attorneys holding Board Certifications in DWI Defense and Criminal Defense.
Doug was also recently named Lawyer of the Year for Houston DWI defense in 2021 and 2023 by Best Lawyers in America as published in U.S. News and World Report, an honor he gained through the nominations and votes of his fellow attorneys in the area. Find out why the Houston media calls Doug the “drinking driver's best friend.” Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm at 713-229-8333 or contact them online to schedule your consultation.