Accidents happen all the time. You can be involved in an accident when you least expect it. If you are involved in an accident when you are intoxicated, you could be tempted to flee the accident scene to avoid DWI consequences. While the police will subject you to heightened scrutiny when involved in a DWI crash, fleeing an accident scene will attract more heightened consequences. Whether intoxicated or not, fleeing an accident scene in Texas is illegal. You could face additional criminal consequences if you leave an accident scene following a DWI crash.

If the police arrest you for leaving an accident scene after a DWI crash, your first step should be to contact an experienced DWI attorney. An attorney will help you weigh your legal options and guide you through the legal process from the commencement to the conclusion of your case. Your attorney will enlighten you on the ramifications of a DWI conviction and ensure that your rights are protected.

You Could Cause More Damage When Fleeing a Crash Scene

This crash in February 2023 in San Antonio is an excellent example of why you should never try to flee an accident scene. The crash occurred in the 3600 block of Roosevelt Avenue, and the defendant was intoxicated. The victim was attempting to turn left. With the blinkers on, she slowed and stopped to take the left turn. An intoxicated man crashed into the back of the victim's vehicle, pushing the car into a nearby parking lot.

Seeing what had happened, the intoxicated man made a quick left turn, only to run into a grassy area and crash onto a telephone pole. The defendant exited his vehicle and tried to walk away without checking on the victim. However, the police found the defendant and arrested him after establishing that he was intoxicated. To make matters worse, the man had two previous convictions of drunk driving.

The Other Parties Could Blame You For The Accident

When you flee a DWI crash scene, the other parties involved could blame you for the accident even if you are not liable. Texas is a proportionate liability state. Therefore, you cannot seek damages if you are more than 51% liable for an accident. The other party could have been responsible for the accident even if you were intoxicated. However, when you flee, the party could take advantage of the situation and report that you caused the accident, then flee.

Fleeing Denies You The Opportunity To Gather Evidence

When you flee an accident scene, you lose a crucial opportunity to gather evidence. You are better off remaining at the accident scene, where you can take photos and record videos to prove what happened. This way, the other parties cannot accuse you of something you did not do.

What The Law States About Fleeing An Accident Scene

If you are involved in a DWI crash in Texas, and the accident causes property damage, damage to another vehicle, or injuries to another person, you must remain at the accident scene until the police arrive. You must also provide your details to the other parties involved in the accident if they request these details. The details that you should provide include your name, vehicle registration number, and other necessary details. This is outlined under Tex. Transp.Code 550.022 (2005).

You must also stop if the crash causes damage to a home or government property. City or state property can include fixtures, structures, or highway landscaping, according to Tex. Transp. Code 550.025 (2017).

You will face Class B or Class C misdemeanor charges if you leave the accident scene if the accident resulted in injuries or property damage. The specific charges you face will vary depending on the extent of damage. The potential penalties for a Class C misdemeanor include fines of up to $500. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.

Hit-And-Run Charges

You could face hit-and-run charges if involved in a DWI crash and run away from the accident scene. All drivers are legally obligated to ensure that all the parties involved in an accident are safe. The parties involved in an accident must also ensure they exchange the proper insurance information. You could face criminal charges if you avoid this legal obligation by fleeing an accident scene. The exact charges you face will vary depending on the facts of the case.

Hit-and-run charges do not just apply to vehicle-to-vehicle accidents. The charges could also apply if you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian, bicyclist, or an unoccupied structure or vehicle. The legal obligation to remain at the accident scene is not contingent on whether or not you are at fault. Even if you feel that another party is to blame for the accident, you should still follow the proper steps after an accident.

If a DWI crash involves severe bodily injury or death of another person and you leave the accident scene, you could face felony charges. A third-degree felony is a serious offense under Texas law that could lead to two to ten years imprisonment. You could also pay fines of up to $10,000.

You could face lesser felony charges if the injuries sustained by the victim are less severe. However, even a lesser felony sentence could still lead to jail time. You could face an imprisonment of one to five years. You could also face a fine of up to $5,000.

You will face class B misdemeanor charges for leaving a DWI crash scene if the damages resulting from the accident are more than $200. These charges could lead to up to six months in jail. These charges could also apply if you cause damage to a structure or hit an unoccupied vehicle and fail to report the accident to the property owner.

You could face class C misdemeanor charges if the damages resulting from an accident are less than $200. This offense could lead to fines of up to $500. Even if the DWI crash only results in minor property damage, locating the property owner and informing them about the crash before leaving the accident scene is crucial.

A Hit-And-Run Charge Could Affect Many Areas of Your Life

You could face more than criminal charges for leaving a DWI crash scene in Texas. You could also face:

Suspension Of Your Driver’s License

Depending on the nature of the offense, the state could suspend your driver's license. This would be a massive inconvenience because you will not have driving privileges for a defined period.

Problems Seeking Housing

You could have difficulty securing housing, especially if convicted of felony hit-and-run. Many landlords are uncomfortable renting out property to convicted felons. Even if this is the only offense you have ever committed, you could have problems securing housing.

Problems Securing a Job

Like with housing, most employers do not hire people with a criminal record. Especially if you are applying for a job that involves driving, your criminal record could hurt your chances of landing a job.

Defending Against Hit-And-Run Charges

Unexpected adrenaline rushes over your body when you are involved in an accident. You probably understand this if you have ever been involved in an accident. Sometimes, this adrenaline can cause you to make unreasonable decisions, including leaving the accident scene.

Sometimes, you are not even aware of the damages you caused. Perhaps you had a few drinks and hit the vehicle beside you while pulling out of a busy parking lot. You drive away without realizing the extent of the damage caused, only to face hit-and-run charges later. You could have a valid defense if you did not know the extent of damage caused at the time of the accident.

In addition, most people are unaware of their legal responsibilities after an accident. You could have a valid legal defense if you escape the accident scene for safety reasons and later face hit-and-run charges.

It is crucial to contact an attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and obligations after being involved in a DWI crash. Working with an experienced attorney can help you avoid a hit-and-run conviction.

What You Should Do After a DWI Crash

Living in Fort Worth is all fun with the mix of city and country living, all until you are involved in a DWI crash. You should consider several factors to enable you to act as you should when faced with this disaster. No matter how panicked you are, leaving an accident scene after a DWI crash can put you in a compromising situation. Leaving the accident scene could make you face additional charges and lose crucial evidence that you can use to defend yourself.

Here is what you should do after you are involved in a DWI crash:

Assess The Situation

The first step following an accident should be to assess the situation around you. Ensure that you and the other people involved in the accident are safe and that no one has severe injuries. In cases of injuries, call the police and the paramedics. Yes, you are messed up and shaken by the accident. However, you still have civic duties to perform. You must try to remain calm and composed.

Record Evidence

If you or the other parties involved in the accident have not suffered severe injuries, look around and ensure you record as much information as possible. Even if you are intoxicated, that does not mean you are entirely to blame for the accident. Other factors could have contributed to the accident. Perhaps the other party involved in the accident violated the traffic laws.

You can use your phone to record evidence by taking photos, recording videos, and gathering other crucial evidence. Even if you are to blame for the accident, it is crucial to collect evidence to ensure that the other parties do not blame you for more than you did. Avoid touching or moving anything. You should leave everything as it is to preserve crucial evidence. However, you can move your vehicle to a safer location to avoid obstructing traffic and causing a pile-up accident. Before you move your car, ensure that you take photos.

Exchange Information

You should exchange information with the other parties. Locate the other drivers, pedestrians, or passengers involved in the accident. Exchange information like names, phone numbers, addresses, insurance company names, license numbers, insurance policy numbers, vehicle registration numbers, and other relevant information.

Note Down The Damages

While you wait for the police to arrive, ensure that you note down the damages resulting from the accident. This is crucial because the other party could blame you for more than you did. This evidence and the recorded statement from the other party will help you fight your DWI case on favorable terms.

Cooperate With Law Enforcement Officers

Ensure that you maintain your cool after the police arrive. This will do a lot of good for your case. Your good behavior reflects your personality and is a crucial factor in your DWI case. You must cooperate with the officers, even when they require you to submit a DWI test.

Leave Your Contact

Sometimes, you could be involved in a DWI crash where no other people are present. For example, you could hit a structure or an unattended vehicle. In this case, you must leave your contact information and other relevant data in a conspicuous but secure location. Leave a note where the vehicle or property owner will find it.

Additional Charges You Could Face In A DWI Crash

Besides the charges for leaving an accident scene, you could face additional charges following a DWI accident. The applicable charges will depend on the accident's circumstances, the damage caused, and whether another person suffers injuries or dies. Here are the additional charges that you could face:

Driving While Intoxicated

Under Texas law, you could face severe charges for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. A first-time DWI offense is a class B misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by a jail time of up to 180 days and a fine not exceeding $3,000. The court can also order you to pay a mandatory $3,000 administrative fee. The judge can instruct you to complete community service, enroll in a safe driving class, undergo alcohol treatment, or install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

Criminal Mischief

You could also face criminal mischief charges if you knowingly or intentionally damage property. The definition of criminal mischief is broad and can apply to DWI accidents because most drivers understand that drunk driving could lead to an accident. This statute applies to any intentional, reckless act that leads to property damage. You could face misdemeanor or felony charges when you commit a criminal mischief offense. Whether you face misdemeanor or felony charges will depend on the value of the damaged property. The charges will vary from no-potential jail time for misdemeanor offenses to up to ten years for a 3rd-degree felony offense.

Reckless Damage

You could face reckless damage charges if you commit a crime that leads to reckless damage to another person's property. Under Texas law, you could face reckless damage charges if you commit an offense without the property owner's consent and recklessly destroy or damage property. Under Texas law, reckless damage is a third-degree misdemeanor. The crime is punishable with a fine of not more than $500.

Intoxication Assault

You could face intoxication assault charges if drunk driving or DWI crashes lead to serious bodily injury. This offense is a third-degree felony. It is punishable by two to ten years in a state prison. The court could also order you to pay up to $10,000 in fines.

Intoxication Manslaughter

If a DWI crash occurs and someone dies due to your drunk driving, you could face intoxication manslaughter charges. Under Texas law, intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony. If the court convicts you of this offense, the potential punishment includes imprisonment for two to twenty years in a state prison. You could also pay up to $10,000 in fines.

How An Attorney Can Help

An attorney’s primary goal is to defend your legal rights. Your attorney can do this by:

  • Identifying the party that is to blame for the DWI crash — There could be one or several liable parties.
  • Gathering relevant evidence, including witness statements.
  • Helping you navigate the legal process, including the courtroom protocols.
  • Identifying the specific cause of the accident.
  • Checking into the other driver’s driving record to determine if there is a pattern of reckless driving.
  • Checking the vehicle black box data to reveal what happened before and during the accident.

Your attorney will tailor the defense to match your case and meet your unique needs. Your attorney can also help in ways not listed above.

Find An Experienced DWI Defense Attorney Near Me

Have you been involved in a DWI crash?

You should not make the mistake of leaving the crash scene, whether or not you are to blame for the accident. You should remain at the accident scene until the police arrive. You must also contact an experienced DWI attorney to help you fight your charges. At the Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, we have vast experience handling DWI cases. We will create a solid defense to fight your charges. Contact us at 817-470-2128 to speak to one of our attorneys.