Traffic accidents often result in property damage. Sometimes the damage is minor, such as a dented fender or a broken fence. Sometimes a car rams into a house.
Texas law mandates penalties for property that is damaged as a result of a DWI (driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence [DUI], or drunk driving) incident, whether the damage inflicted is to another vehicle or to someone's land or home.
A first-time DWI conviction in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor under the Texas Penal Code, Chapter 49.04, with a jail sentence of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000, as well as 72 hours of initial jail confinement and a mandatory driver's license suspension.
But when property is damaged as a result of a DWI, Chapter 28.04 of the Texas Penal Code, which addresses the "reckless damage or destruction" of property, adds a Class C misdemeanor charge to the DWI charge. A Class C misdemeanor is punishable upon conviction by a fine of up to $500 but adds no incarceration. Restitution for "fair market value" of the damaged property is also usually ordered by the court upon conviction of a violation of § 28.04.
As if a DWI charge alone is not serious enough, a DWI with Property Damage charge adds to the legal issues and the potential expense of a DWI incident. If you are charged with DWI with property damage anywhere in Plano, Texas or Collin County, Texas, you should contact a local DWI attorney as soon as possible to initiate your defense.
The DWI attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy are experienced in defending drivers charged with DWI with property damage. Our dedicated attorneys will be able to explain your criminal charges and then work hard to defend those charges. We will also address the administrative aspects of your case and fight to retain your driving privileges.
Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy serves clients throughout Collin County, Texas, including the cities of Plano, Carrollton, Garland, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, and Richardson, as well as many nearby communities throughout the North Dallas area, including Rockwall and Grayson counties.
Contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (469) 304-3422 so we can review your case and explain your options during a free, confidential consultation with one of our skilled DUI attorneys.
Under the Texas Penal Code Ann., Title 10, Chapter 49.04, Driving While Intoxicated may be charged when a "person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place."
A related section of Chapter 49 provides definitions of the key terms related to DWI.
"Motor vehicle" is defined as "a device in, on, or by which a person is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks" (Texas P.C. §§ 32.34(a) and 49.01(3)). "Intoxicated" is defined as:
"Alcohol concentration" (also known as blood alcohol concentration or BAC) is defined in the statute to mean "the number of grams of alcohol per:
By law, the police are entitled to test a person's breath, blood or urine for alcohol or drugs. A person may refuse a chemical test for alcohol or drugs, but refusal results in an automatic driver's license suspension (which may be appealed if the appeal is filed within 15 days of arrest).
The "property damage" element of the offense is charged in addition to any DUI offense. Texas Penal Code, Title 7, §28.04 states that a person commits an offense of "reckless damage or destruction" if, without the effective consent of the owner, he or she recklessly damages or destroys the property owned by another person.
Despite concerns about double jeopardy, Texas takes the approach of most other states with a two-tiered structure for DWI penalties. Lawmakers in Texas have devised a way to punish people who are convicted of DWI with both criminal and administrative (civil) penalties. After a person has his or her day in court, the bureaucracy then takes over.
Criminal Penalties for DWI with Property Damage
Property damage that occurs during a DWI offense is often considered an aggravating factor by a court, which could lead to added charges against a person accused of DWI.
A first-time DWI offense in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Upon arrest for DWI, a first-time offender is often required to spend up to 72 hours in jail, which doubles to six days in jail if the police discover an open container of alcohol at the time of the arrest.
When a person's BAC is 0.15 or above (sometimes known as "extreme DWI"), a DWI is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, with a jail sentence upon conviction of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000, or both, according to the statutes.
If property is damaged as a result of an alleged DWI incident, the police or prosecutor may file an additional charge of reckless damage or destruction of property under § 28.04 of the Texas Penal Code. This charge is a Class C misdemeanor, with no jail time, but a fine of up to $500 may be imposed. Restitution for "fair market value" of any damaged property is also routinely ordered by the court (§ 28.06).
Civil Penalties for DWI with Property Damage
In addition to the criminal penalties that are imposed by a court in a DWI with Property Damage case, civil (administrative) penalties may be imposed bureaucratically.
Civil penalties — some of which may be ordered by the court — may include probation, driver's license suspension, mandatory DWI classes and annual DWI surcharges of $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years in order to maintain a driver's license after a DWI suspension is lifted.
A person charged with DWI in Texas will automatically lose his or her driver's license unless he or she requests an administrative hearing within 15 days of the arrest.
The court may also require restitution for any property that was destroyed as a result of a DWI as a condition of probation, or to reinstate a driver's license; until restitution is paid, the license will not be valid.
Texas Transportation Code, Title 10, Chapter 49 — Read the Texas statutes related to DWI and drunk driving offenses.
Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 28 — Offenses Against Property — Read the section of the Texas Penal Code that defines offenses against property such as arson, criminal mischief, and other property damage or destruction.
Texas Department of Public Safety — The Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) lists the potential punishments for alcohol-related offenses in Texas, including driver’s license suspensions and revocations, probation and required course attendance. A local DPS office is located at:
Texas Department of Public Safety
2109 W Parker Rd #224
Plano, TX 75023
Phone: (972) 867-4221
Collin County Motor Vehicle Services Information — Local information and resources related to motor vehicles are available on the Collin County government website. The main Collin County office is located at:
2300 Bloomdale Rd #2302
McKinney, TX 75071
Phone: (972) 547-5014
If you were arrested for DWI with Property Damage in Plano, Texas, or in Collin County, Texas or anywhere north or northeast of Dallas, contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
The experienced DWI attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy know the laws related to DWI with Property Damage and we can explain them to you in plain English. We serve clients throughout Collin County, including Plano, Garland, McKinney, Carrollton, Frisco, Richardson and Allen, and also Rockwall and Grayson counties.
Sometimes, we are able to find problems with the prosecution's case, flaws in the DWI tests that were conducted, or with the arrest itself, which may result in a reduction or dismissal of charges. You have little time to lose in order to retain your driving privileges, so contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (469) 304-3422 about your case.