When Does a DWI Turn Into Intoxication Assault?

January 1, 2023 | By Shane Phelps Law
When Does a DWI Turn Into Intoxication Assault?

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in Texas. A DWI charge can progress from a misdemeanor to a felony, and one of the most serious of these felonies is intoxication assault. In this blog, Shane Phelps Law will explain what intoxication assault involves and how it differs from regular DWIs.

What is Intoxication Assault?

Under Texas law, intoxication assault is defined as causing severe bodily injury to another person while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Serious bodily injury includes broken bones, disfigurement, and/or permanent disability.

Furthermore, this felony crime requires that the defendant was aware that the victim had been injured but failed to stop and render aid. This means that if you are pulled over for suspicion of DWI and an officer notices that someone else has been injured in an accident you were involved with, you can be charged with intoxication assault even if you weren’t driving at the time of the accident.

How Does Intoxication Assault Differ from DWI?

The main difference between intoxication assault and DWI is that intoxication assault involves injury or death to another person, whereas driving while intoxicated does not require any physical harm to have taken place. That being said, both crimes are still severe offenses in Texas--intoxication assault carries harsher punishments than regular DWIs.

For instance, if convicted of intoxication assault, you could face up to 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $10,000; additionally, your driver's license may be permanently revoked at the court's discretion.

On the other hand, regular DWIs carry jail sentences of up to 180 days and fines of up to $2,000; your license may also be suspended for up to 2 years, depending on your prior convictions or lack thereof. In either case—regular DWIs or intoxication assaults—it’s essential to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible so that you can get started on building a strong legal defense right away.

DWI charges can become more severe under certain circumstances--one such circumstance is when the defendant causes serious bodily injury or death while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This offense is intoxication assault and carries much harsher punishments than regular DWIs.

If you face such charges in Texas, don’t hesitate—contact our team who can help you build a strong legal defense immediately.