An Overview of Intoxication Manslaughter Charges in Texas
Driving while intoxicated has proven to be one of the top dangers of the roadways. And that’s why it results in major consequences for the offending driver. This is especially the case when it comes to the residents of Texas. Your first DWI offense can cost you up to $2,000 in fines and lead to your license being revoked for up to one year. However, in the case of individuals who drive under the influence and commit intoxication manslaughter, the consequences can be much more severe. Let’s discuss punishments and how intoxication manslaughter charges are beaten. But first, let’s define the term ‘intoxication manslaughter.’
What is Intoxication Manslaughter?
In the state of Texas, whenever an individual is charged for causing a motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence of a substance that results in a death, it’s considered to be intoxication manslaughter. Even if the driver wasn’t technically at fault for the collision, he or she could still be charged with this offense. There’s a key difference between the terms ‘manslaughter’ and ‘homicide.’ In most cases, a homicide requires premeditation, a motive, or a conscious action to kill the victim. Conversely, manslaughter doesn’t require intent; it only requires that the victim’s death be the result of negligence. The offender must be shown to be reckless. Thus, intoxication manslaughter qualifies as criminal negligence.
Punishments and Sentencing
When it comes to punishments and sentencing, one can expect that the consequences of intoxication manslaughter will be much steeper than that of DWI or DUI. In the state of Texas, intoxication manslaughter is classified as a second-degree felony. These convictions result in 2-20 year sentences, and/or fines up to $10,000. Also, those found guilty of this offense can serve over 200 hours of community service.
Beating an Intoxication Manslaughter Charge
Individuals who’d like to beat their intoxication manslaughter charge must prove that their intoxication wasn’t directly responsible for the victim’s death. This is often established through hard evidence. Perhaps the accident was caught on video footage or an eyewitness is willing to testify. In certain instances, the lawyer must be able to establish reasonable doubt.
Let’s say that someone drove home after a few beers and that their blood alcohol concentration was .08. If the driver of the other vehicle ran a red light and caused the intoxicated driver to hit them, their intoxication wouldn’t be a direct cause of death or injuries. The individual may still be guilty of DWI, but in this particular scenario, the other driver is legally responsible for the accident and consequently, their own death.
Another way in which intoxication manslaughter charges can be fought is by using Texas’ “Time of Driving” rules. This can help to establish reasonable doubt as to whether or not the driver was actually intoxicated. The science that’s used to prove that a driver was under the influence at the time of the accident can often be extremely faulty. And this means that it can easily be questioned in court.
When it comes to intoxication manslaughter, there are several things that should be considered. First, you don’t have to have a motive or intent in order to be charged with this crime. Next, the punishment can result in decades of prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, and many hours of community service. Lastly, in order to beat intoxication manslaughter charges, one must be able to establish reasonable doubt or prove that their intoxication was not a direct cause of the accident.