Motor vehicles are specifically designed to aid in transportation. However, this does not rule out the possibility that they can accidentally or intentionally be involved in accidents that lead to life-threatening conditions, resulting in vehicular crime charges.
In general, a vehicular assault in Texas is an assault in which a motor vehicle is used to cause harm to another person or threaten them with harm. Vehicular assault can be the result of recklessness or a deliberate act.
Assault rates in Texas
According to a report by The Texas Department of Public Safety, violent crime rates are on the rise. While the report doesn’t provide statistics specifically for vehicular assault in Texas, the rate of aggravated assault (in general) increased by 15 percent in 2020 to almost 300 aggravated assaults per every 100,000 Texas residents. These numbers accounted for more than 65 percent of all the violent crimes committed in Texas that year.
What is vehicular assault?
There is no specific offense in Texas called vehicular assault; however, drivers can be charged with aggravated assault with a vehicle if they intentionally or recklessly cause harm to another person while using their vehicle as a weapon against that person.
What is reckless driving?
In Texas, the act of reckless driving is defined as a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Drivers can exhibit a number of behaviors that may qualify as reckless driving or “road rage” under Texas law, including:
- Excessive speeding or racing other drivers
- Cutting off other drivers during lane changes
- Running a red light or a stop sign
- Texting and driving
- Failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
Reckless driving is generally considered a misdemeanor, which can come with penalties such as community service, fines up to $200, loss of driver’s license and 30 days of jail time.
Who can be charged with aggravated assault with a vehicle?
In order to be charged with aggravated assault with a vehicle in Texas, it must be proved that a defendant intentionally, knowingly or recklessly caused either:
- Serious bodily injury to another, or
- Bodily injury with a deadly weapon.
In cases of aggravated assault with a vehicle, the vehicle qualifies as a deadly weapon.
Potential charges for aggravated assault with a vehicle in Texas
Charges of aggravated assault with a vehicle in Texas can come with harsh penalties if convicted. Possible penalties could include:
- 3rd-degree felony with a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 10 years
- 2nd-degree felony with a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 20 years
It’s important to understand that in cases of vehicular assault, defendants may also be sued by the injured driver in civil court in addition to the charges they face in a Texas criminal court.
Civil cases are generally pursued by a victim in order to recover compensation for their injuries and loss of property. However, unlike in criminal cases, penalties in civil cases cannot result in jail time.
When to contact a criminal defense attorney
In order to be convicted of aggravated assault with a vehicle in a criminal case, the prosecution must prove that you are guilty of the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Because of the seriousness of the crime and potential penalties, it’s vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can examine the evidence and develop a strategy to disprove the charges against you.