Jefferson County officials have issued aggravated intoxication charges to a suspect after a Thursday evening wreck that claimed the lives of three victims and critically injured a young child. The traffic accident occurred on Highway 82 near the Valero Refinery in Port Arthur. Police responded to the 2600 Block of SH 82 at approximately 7:36 p.m., where they found three deceased subjects in the victim vehicle.
Preliminary investigation revealed that a Dodge truck travelling northbound on SH 82 in a Dodge truck crossed over into southbound traffic, striking a passenger vehicle, which came to rest after overturning. The Dodge truck driver, who also sustained injuries and has admitted to taking drugs and alcohol prior to the accident, was issued a blood warrant to determine intoxication and is being held without bond.
The implications of aggravated DWI penalties
In Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense that already carries stiff penalties. But when there are injuries or fatalities that result from an accident allegedly caused by a DWI, the sentencing upon conviction can be even more severe. The alleged DWI driver can face aggravated charges in the Lone Star State if the accident causes:
- serious bodily injury with a substantial risk of death, disfigurement or loss or impairment of function when an individual who is DWI commits the offense unintentionally while operating a motor vehicle on a public road, with a charge of Intoxication Assault, Penal Code 49.07, or
- the death of another when an individual who is DWI commits the offense while operating a motor vehicle on a public road, with a charge of Intoxication Manslaughter, § 49.08.
Both are felony charges with enhanced penalties, including extended prison time. Intoxicated assault is a third-degree felony that carries two to ten years in state prison, while intoxicated manslaughter is a second-degree felony with sentencing of two to twenty years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Fighting enhanced charges
Law enforcement in Texas can be very quick to judge any erratic driving behaviors, and officers are often aggressive in enforcing penalties based on circumstantial evidence. The bar is very high for proving that the individual’s level of intoxication was the unique cause of the death of another person in an accident.
There may also have been irregularities in the arrest or search procedures, and the results of the chemical test are sometimes inaccurate. Above all, it is important to fight for your rights in order to have the charges reduced or dropped with effective legal defense attorneys serving Beaumont and surrounding communities.