Austin Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) carries risks that extend far beyond the legal penalties. The potential consequences can be catastrophic, including severe injuries to oneself and others, fatalities, and significant property damage. In Texas, the legal penalties for DWI are already stringent but can increase dramatically if you cause an accident. Given these high stakes, hiring an experienced Austin drunk driving accident attorney becomes extremely important if you are involved in a DWI accident in Austin.

What Is the Definition of a DWI in Austin, Texas?

In Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a term that often causes confusion, but can have significant implications. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.07, DWI refers to operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, which is defined in the following two ways:

  1. Not having the normal use of your mental or physical faculties because of the consumption of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, or a combination thereof; or 
  2. Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.

This means that you can be considered legally intoxicated if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, or if any amount of alcohol or drugs affects your ability to operate a vehicle.

Texas law takes DWI criminal charges seriously. An experienced Austin drunk driving accident attorney can help you understand what the state has to prove in a DWI case and help you formulate a defense strategy based on the specifics of your case.

Chemicals Related to DWI in Texas

In Texas, the substances that can lead to a DWI charge are not limited to just alcohol. The law also includes a variety of controlled substances, illegal drugs, prescription medications, and even over-the-counter medications that can impair a driver’s abilities. 

Here is a list of common substances that can lead to a DWI if found to impair your driving:

  • Alcohol: The most common substance associated with DWI.
  • Prescription medications: Includes opioids, benzodiazepines, and sleep aids that warn against operating machinery.
  • Over-the-counter drugs: Such as antihistamines or cough syrups that can cause drowsiness or impaired judgment.
  • Illegal drugs: Including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and others.

Understanding what substances can result in a DWI charge is essential for anyone taking medication or consuming alcohol before driving. An Austin drunk driving accident attorney can give you guidance on how these substances can affect your DWI case and your possible defenses.

What Are the Penalties for DWI in Texas?

The penalties for DWI in Texas are severe and escalate with each subsequent offense, underscoring the importance of competent legal representation in an Austin DWI case. 

Here is an overview of how the penalties breakdown:

  1. A First Offense:
    • A fine of up to $2,000.
    • Between 3 days and 180 days in jail.
    • Loss of your driver’s license up to a year.
    • An annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for three years to retain a driver’s license.
  2. A Second Offense:
    • A fine of up to $4,000.
    • One month to a year in jail.
    • Loss of your driver’s license up to two years.
    • An annual fee of $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years to retain a driver’s license.
  3. A Third Offense:
    • A $10,000 fine.
    • Two to ten years in state prison.
    • Loss of your driver’s license up to two years.
    • An annual fee of $1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for three years to retain a driver’s license.

These structured penalties highlight the escalating nature of DWI consequences in Texas. However, when a DWI results in injuries or fatalities, the charges and penalties can escalate dramatically. 

For instance, causing an injury while driving intoxicated may lead to felony charges such as intoxication assault, which carries steeper fines, longer jail sentences, and more severe license suspensions. In cases of a fatality, you might face manslaughter charges, a serious felony that can significantly impact your future and freedom.

What to Do if You Cause an Accident During a DWI?

From a legal perspective, being involved in an accident while driving under the influence complicates your situation significantly. Here is what you should do after causing an accident, based on the consequences:

After an Accident Resulting in an Injury to Another Person

  1. Ensure Safety: First, ensure everyone’s safety; check if anyone needs immediate medical assistance and call for emergency services.
  2. Inform the Police: It is mandatory to inform the police when there are injuries. They will document the scene and file a report, which is crucial for the subsequent legal proceedings.
  3. Do Not Admit Fault: Avoid discussing the accident details with the other parties involved; any statements you make can be used against you later.
  4. Contact Your Attorney: Reach out to your Austin drunk driving accident attorney who can guide you on the steps to follow, particularly how to communicate with law enforcement and the insurance companies to protect your rights.

After an Accident Resulting in Another’s Death

  1. Contact the Authorities: Immediately inform the police. This type of accident often leads to serious charges such as intoxication manslaughter.
  2. Remain at the Scene: Leaving the scene can lead to more severe consequences.
  3. Seek Legal Representation: Before making any statements, consult with your attorney. This is a grave situation, and every action can significantly impact the legal outcome.

After an Accident Resulting in Property Damage

  1. Report the Accident: Notify the police, especially if the damage is significant.
  2. Exchange Information: Safely exchange contact and insurance information with the other party.
  3. Document the Scene: Take photos of the scene, which can help in your defense and insurance claims.
  4. Consult Your Attorney: Contact a trusted criminal defense attorney in Austin to discuss how to proceed in handling the property damage claims and potential charges.

Each of these scenarios requires careful handling by a skilled attorney. Whether your DWI charge involves injuries, fatalities, or property damage, an Austin-based DWI attorney can provide invaluable support in dealing with the increased challenge that these circumstances bring to defending a DWI charge in Texas.

A DWI charge in Austin, especially one involving an accident, can have a long-lasting impact on your life. However, there are immediate steps you can take, such as reaching out to a qualified attorney, that can significantly influence the outcome of your case, including efforts to seek a dismissal. A skilled attorney can advocate for your rights, seek fair treatment under the law, and help achieve an outcome that minimizes the long-term impact – schedule a free consultation today.

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816 Congress Ave, Suite 950
Austin, Texas 78701

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700 N St Mary’s St, Suite 1457
San Antonio, Texas 78205