DWI charges, even for a first time offense, should be taken seriously. This is especially true if the case involves allegations of a hit-and-run, when defendants can expect to face not only charges for leaving the scene of an accident, but additional allegations for driving while intoxicated (DWI). For help defending yourself against a DWI hit-and-run accident allegation, please reach out to our experienced Houston DWI lawyers today.
Legal Obligation to Stop After an Accident
Under Texas law, anyone who is involved in a car accident is required to stop immediately and provide aid (if necessary) and exchange information with the other parties, regardless of the circumstances. When someone doesn’t fulfill this obligation, he or she can be charged with causing a hit-and-run accident, also known as Failing to Stop and Render Aid (FSRA) or Failure to Stop and Give Information (FSGI).
Combination DUI and Hit-and-Run Charges
FSRA and FSGI allegations are often charged as Class B misdemeanors, which carry as much as $2,000 in fines and up to six months in jail. It’s important to note that these are merely the penalties for a hit-and-run, so defendants who are also accused of being intoxicated at the time of a crash face additional penalties, including significant jail time and driver’s license revocation, especially if the accident caused significant property damage or a physical injury. If, for instance, someone suffered a serious injury in the accident, the accused could also be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Generally, when a defendant is convicted of a criminal offense, the judge has discretion when determining that person’s sentence (within a specific range dictated by statute). For instance, for first time offenses, judges often opt for a lesser punishment. This discretion can, however, be a double edged sword. If, for instance, a first-time DWI offender caused a serious accident, he or she is not likely to receive much leniency from the judge.
Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentences
In some DWI cases, judges don’t have discretion when it comes to sentencing. In 2013, Texas elevated FSRA allegations to the same charge as intoxication manslaughter. The two offenses, however, were not given equitable mandatory prison sentences until 2019, when a new law created a mandatory minimum 120 day prison sentence for anyone who is involved in a hit-and-run accident that results in a death.
Set Up a Free Consultation Today
DWI offenses are taken seriously in Texas, especially when a case involves allegations of causing property damage or a physical injury. Drivers who are accused of these crimes, however, are not without legal recourse, so if you were recently arrested for and accused of a DWI hit-and-run, feel free to call Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A. Nelson to learn more about your legal options. You can set up a free consultation with a member of our legal team by calling our office at 713-489-7373 or by sending us an online message.