Texas has become the first state to recognize intoxication manslaughter as its own charge. While intoxicated manslaughter is similar to other DWI-related charges that defense attorneys encounter, this term applies when the actions of an intoxicated person results in the death of another person. Even though DWI lawyers know that intoxication-related accidents are usually unintentional, when a fatality is involved they must be viewed as a serious incident.
If you are a defendant, this new categorization requires DWI defense attorneys to represent you based on the criteria set forth below, separate from other types of homicide.
What Is Intoxication Manslaughter?
The Texas legal code identifies intoxication manslaughter as a homicide that involves the operation of a motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated that has resulted in the unintentional death of someone else. This charge applies to the death of a passenger in the same vehicle, another vehicle, a pedestrian, or someone otherwise directly affected by the actions of the vehicle operator.
Defense attorneys who handle drunk driving offenses point out that this charge may also apply to a death that occurs anytime after the accident as a result of sustained injuries. There must also be sufficient evidence showing the driver’s intoxication is what caused the accident and led to the fatality.
What Counts As Intoxication?
DWI defense attorneys explain that there are different types of intoxication, voluntary and involuntary, that are considered when the charge of intoxication manslaughter is made. Even though they both result in an accidental death, DWI lawyers know the reason why a driver was intoxicated and caused a fatality can affect the outcome of a case.
Voluntary intoxication is when a person knowingly consumes alcohol, drugs, and other substances, then drives while under their influence. This includes driving while under the influence of prescription medication already known to cause impairment. Drivers who make a conscious choice to driven when intoxicated and then accidentally kills someone can be charged with intoxication manslaughter.
Involuntary intoxication in these cases, as explained by Texas DWI defense attorneys, is when a person becomes intoxicated after being given a substance without their knowledge. DWI lawyers find that most accidents resulting from involuntary intoxication are not usually charged as manslaughter since they are considered to be true accidents.
Penalties for Intoxication Manslaughter
Although intoxicated manslaughter and manslaughter are in general viewed as a less severe crime than murder and other homicides, drunk driving defense attorneys stress it is still a severely punishable offense. Intoxicated manslaughter is charged as a second-degree felony. If convicted, Texas defendants could be sentenced from 2 to 20 years in prison and face penalties up to $10,000. In addition, defendants may also be required to serve between 200 and 800 hours of community service in addition to prison time.
Anyone who drives under the influence and causes the unintentional death of another person can be charged with intoxication manslaughter. While any manslaughter charge is serious, DWI defense attorneys now see that intoxication manslaughter charges must also be taken very seriously.
If you are a defendant, immediately retain drunk driving defense attorneys who can represent you in court if facing intoxication manslaughter charges. Experienced DWI lawyers will protect your rights through the entire legal process!
Reynaldo Garza, III
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
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1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526