When Your DWI Damages Someone Else’s Property

Posted by Doug Murphy | Jun 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Recently, a driver in Houston was arrested for DWI after crashing a vehicle into someone's home, damaging the house and leading to the arrest of the driver. Driving a vehicle into a house, building, sign, another vehicle, or other property is actually much more common than many people realize.

Every year, all around the United States, impaired motorists cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $51 billion in drunk driving property damage. For this reason, numerous laws protect the rights of property owners and allow for people to recoup the damages incurred by another person's bad decisions.

If you are involved in an alcohol-related auto accident, you will be responsible for any property damage that was caused by the crash. This means you may face both criminal and civil charges for drunk driving. Not only could you go to jail and be hit with fines, but you will also very likely have to pay for any damages that were caused by your impairment.  The good news is that your automobile insurance should cover the property damage (civil charges).

Drunk or drugged driving arrests often come as a result of traffic stops. As the driver, you may be pulled over for speeding, or swerving across the road, or running a red light or a stop sign. But other times drivers are arrested at the scene of automobile accidents. If you're lucky, these are property damage only (PDO) accidents, that involve only the driver and an inanimate object. An alleged drunk driver in a PDO crash will usually face additional criminal charges besides the underlying DWI offense.

If you're unlucky, another person will have been involved. In either case, the driver who was driving intoxicated or under the influence will be liable for any property damage or the medical bills for any injuries inflicted. Even after the criminal charges are dealt with, drivers can face civil monetary liability in court, too.

In Texas, intoxication assault, a non-fatal crash in which a drunk driver causes a person "severe bodily injury", and intoxication manslaughter, an accident that causes a person to die, are felony offenses. In addition, drivers can face other criminal charges even when an accident only results in property damage.

Any offense related to driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a series one, with a host of potential criminal charges. Drivers charged with DWI or DUI should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. When the driver is involved in an accident that damages another person's property, the situation becomes considerably more complicated. And if the other person is injured in addition to the property damage, the matter can become dire very quickly. You as the driver must have good legal representation right away, from a lawyer who understands all the criminal and civil implications of the accident.  If you have been involved in an accident, the police and prosecutors are already working on their case against you before you have even bonded out of jail.  You will need a board certified DWI lawyer to start working immediately who knows the necessary steps to protect your rights and freedom.

It's understandable to feel rattled and worried after an accident that left property damage and injuries. You probably even feel morally guilty and perhaps hopeless.  The good news is it not hopeless if we get an early start in the legal process.  Let us help you navigate your rights and find the best way out of this situation. Contact our office today for help.

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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