What Is Intoxication Assault in Texas?

January 1, 2023 | By Shane Phelps Law
What Is Intoxication Assault in Texas?

Intoxication assault is a serious offense in Texas. It occurs when an individual operating a motor vehicle on a public road, because of their impairment, causes serious bodily injury to another person. In Texas, this offense is considered a third-degree felony and carries penalties such as up to $10,000 in fines and jail time ranging from two to ten years.

Definition of Intoxicated Assault

Under Texas law, a person commits intoxicated assault when they cause serious bodily injury to another person while driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Serious bodily injury refers to any injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious permanent disfigurement, or results in protracted loss or impairment of a bodily organ or member.

Understanding Serious Bodily Injury

For intoxication assault charges to be brought against an individual, it must be proven that the accused was operating a motor vehicle while impaired due to alcohol or drugs; that the accused caused serious bodily injury to another person; and that the accused did not act with intent or knowledge that they were causing serious bodily injury.

The definition of “serious bodily injury” under Texas law includes any physical condition which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any body part or organ. If the alleged offender caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer while performing their duties, then intoxication assault is classified as a first-degree felony instead of a third-degree felony.


The penalties for intoxicated assault in Texas depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense and the defendant's prior criminal record.

Generally, intoxicated assault is classified as a third-degree felony, which carries the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment: A term ranging from 2 to 10 years.
  • Fine: A maximum fine of up to $10,000.

However, if the offense involves certain aggravating factors, the penalties can increase significantly. For instance:

  • If the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel, the offense is elevated to a second-degree felony.
  • If the assault results in the victim's death, it becomes intoxicated manslaughter, a second-degree felony carrying even more severe penalties.

Various legal defenses can be employed in an intoxicated assault case, depending on the specific circumstances. Some common defenses include:

  • Challenging The Evidence: The defense may contest the reliability or validity of evidence, such as blood or breath test results, challenging the accuracy of the equipment used or how the tests were administered.
  • Questioning Causation: The defense may argue that the injuries sustained by the victim were not a direct result of the defendant's intoxication or actions.
  • Violation Of Constitutional Rights: If the defendant's constitutional rights were violated during the arrest or investigation, it may be possible to challenge the admissibility of evidence obtained as a result.
  • Intoxication Level: In some cases, the defense may argue that the defendant's intoxication level was not sufficient to impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.

It is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in intoxicated assault cases to evaluate the available defenses and build a strong legal strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of the case.


Intoxicated assault is a serious offense with severe legal consequences. Understanding the definition, penalties, legal process, and available defenses is essential for anyone involved in such a case. If facing an intoxicated assault charge, it is strongly recommended to seek legal representation to navigate the complexities of the legal system and protect one's rights effectively.

When you need trustworthy legal counsel backed by over 30 years of experience, contact Shane Phelps Law.