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Intoxication Assault Law Image

Intoxication Assault

Intoxication Assault is a Texas offense that requires the state to prove that a person drove while intoxicated and accidentally or mistakenly injured someone. Because the crime does not require an intent to harm anyone, you can be charged with Intoxication Assault even if you did not mean to injure anyone. Intoxication Assault is a serious crime that escalates a drunk driving or driving under the influence charge to a felony. Learn more about the Texas DWI law

Have you been charged with Intoxication Assault? Call criminal defense lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305.

In Texas, Intoxication Assault most often occurs when a person is drunk or on drugs while driving and gets into a car accident. In a less typical case of Intoxication Assault, a person can be charged with a crime if he or she assembles an amusement park ride (or operates a different type of vehicle like a boat or an airplane) while drunk or on drugs and causes someone else to be injured. You can be charged with Intoxication Assault whether you injure a passenger in your own vehicle or someone in another vehicle.

There are several elements of Intoxication Assault that the state must prove in order to obtain a conviction. Among the most difficult are: whether you were intoxicated under Section 49.01 of the Texas Penal Code, whether your intoxication was the cause of the injury and whether you were the person operating the vehicle. It can be difficult to know whether your actions could result in an Intoxication Assault conviction, so it is important to be represented by an attorney who understands all the factors involved in an Intoxication Assault charge.

How can I be charged with Intoxication Assault?

The Texas offense of Intoxication Assault, outlined in Section 49.07 of the Texas Penal Code, reads as follows:

(a) A person commits an offense if the person, by accident or mistake:

(1) while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated, or while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another; or

(2) as a result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated causes serious bodily injury to another.

The Intoxication Assault statute is clear that the state of Texas does not have to prove you injured someone intentionally to charge you with Intoxication Assault. You can be charged with Intoxication Assault for injuring someone by accident or mistake. The Intoxication Assault crime is meant to have harsh consequences to discourage people from drinking and driving.

What constitutes being intoxicated?

Intoxication means being drunk or on drugs to the point where you no longer have normal use of your mental or physical functions. The state can prove intoxication by showing that you had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more or that you lost the “normal” use of your mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of any substance into your body. Note that you are “intoxicated” under Texas Law even if you were prescribed the medicine or it was over the counter or the substance is otherwise entirely legal. Learn more about the definition of intoxication under Texas law

What type of vehicles does the Intoxication Assault statute refer to?

The Intoxication Assault statute requires the operation of a vehicle. The vehicles referred to in the Intoxication Assault statute can be found in Texas Penal Code 49.01 sections 3-6. Texas defines the vehicles under the Intoxication Assault statute as including an aircraft, a watercraft, an amusement ride, or most commonly, a motor vehicle.

A motor vehicle under the Intoxication Assault statute typically refers to a car or truck that can be transported or used on a highway. Motor vehicles under the Intoxication Assault statute do not include vehicles that travel on a fixed track,1 like a train. A watercraft refers to jet skis or any other vehicle used to transport people on water. An aircraft can be an airplane or a jet. Learn more about the definition of a motor vehicle

Where can Intoxication Assault happen?

Intoxication Assault can happen in any public place where an intoxicated person is operating a motor vehicle. A public place is anywhere that people are free to enter. Some examples of public places are streets, stores, or parks. Typically, cases of Intoxication Assault happen on a highway or roadway.

What type of injury does Intoxication Assault involve? What does serious bodily injury mean?

Intoxication Assault means that a person has caused serious bodily injury to another person with a vehicle. Serious bodily injury means that the person injured faced a substantial risk of death, that the person has suffered or will suffer permanent disfigurement or that the injured person will now have an impaired body part or organ.2

What happens if multiple people are injured?

You can be charged with Intoxication Assault even if you injure only one person, but if multiple people are injured, the punishment may be more severe.

What is the punishment for a Intoxication Assault?

A conviction for Intoxication Assault can have very serious consequences that will affect your future employment opportunities or quality of life. Intoxication Assault is a third degree felony. A third degree felony is punishable by a minimum of two years in prison and can lead up to ten years in prison. Along with imprisonment, the state can also fine you up to $10,000. Learn more about felonies on our Range of Punishment page

In addition, there is a minimum of 30 days in jail required if you receive a probation (“community supervision”) sentence.3

In 2017, the 85th Texas Legislature passed H.B. 2908, creating a new enhancement, effective September 1, 2017.4 This new enhancement makes an Intoxication Assault conviction a First Degree felony “if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer or judge while the officer or judge was in the actual discharge of an official duty.”5

Legal References:

1Texas Penal Code Section 32.34(2) – “Motor vehicle” means a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.

2Texas Penal Code 49.07(b) – “In this section, “serious bodily injury” means injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

3Texas Penal Code Article 42.12 Sec. 13(2)(a) – “A judge granting community supervision to a defendant convicted of an offense under Chapter 49, Penal Code, shall require as a condition of community supervision that the defendant submit to: (1) …. not less than 30 days of confinement in county jail if the defendant was convicted under Section 49.07”

4House Bill 2908, Sections 6-7

5Texas Penal Code 49.09(b-1)(2), as created by H.B. 2908, Section 5, effective September 1, 2017

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