Texas DWI intoxication manslaughter is defined by Texas Penal Code § 49.08. There are two requirements for DWI intoxication manslaughter in the state of Texas. The first is that the defendant operates a motor vehicle in a public place. This requirement is also satisfied by operating or assembling an amusement ride, boat, or aircraft. The second requirement is that the defendant is intoxicated and, because of that intoxication, causes another person’s death by accident or mistake. More simply, this is the charge if someone accidentally kills someone else while driving while intoxicated. One does not necessarily have to be the driver of another vehicle. For example, a drunk driver could offer a friend a ride home, crash into a tree, and only kill their passenger. The driver could potentially be charged with DWI intoxication manslaughter in Texas. An intoxicated driver could also strike a pedestrian or a building and kill someone inside.
Texas Penal Code § 49.08 designates DWI intoxication manslaughter as a second-degree felony. The penalties for a second-degree felony in Texas are set forth by Texas Penal Code § 12.33. A second-degree felony is punishable in Texas by two to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The charges and penalties do not include wrongful death civil lawsuits, or other claims that the victim’s family could bring.
Georgetown Intoxication Manslaughter Attorney | Williamson County, TX
Intoxication manslaughter is a felony offense in Texas. People who are accused of killing someone as a result of DWI are charged with this offense. For those who are unfortunate enough to be convicted of the offense, the penalties are harsh. There are defense strategies that have helped many good people avoid guilty judgements.
Although the public hysteria over DWI related intoxication manslaughter is extreme, it doesn’t mean that every case results in a guilty verdict for the accused nor that every accused party is guilty. If you or a close loved one were charged with intoxicated manslaughter in Travis County, The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski can advocate aggressively on your behalf.
If you reside in Austin or Georgetown, TX, call 512-960-4646 to schedule a free consultation today.
- Intoxication Manslaughter & Texas Law
- DWI Manslaughter With A Previous Felony Conviction
- Potential DWI Intoxication Manslaughter Defenses
- Additional Resources
In the State of Texas, manslaughter is defined under the Texas Penal Code Chapter 19.04 (a) and in essence determines that manslaughter under this section of the penal code is when anyone “recklessly and carelessly causes the death of an individual.”
Intoxication Manslaughter can be charged to any person who causes the death of another person while operating any form of machinery while impaired. Machinery can include watercraft, rides in amusement parks, motorcycles and other machine equipment.
A person doesn’t have to be driving a vehicle or operating machinery and causing a death to be charged with intoxication manslaughter. If a person causes the death of another person due to being intoxicated, machine involved or not, the offense will be classified as intoxication manslaughter. Even if a passenger in your own vehicle was killed in an collision that didn’t involve another vehicle the charge will apply.
Intoxication Manslaughter under State of Texas Penal Code 49.08 is classified as a 2nd Degree Felony. A felony in the 2nd degree is punishable by a prison sentence of 2-to-20 years in a TDCJ operated prison facility.
In Texas, a defendant who has previously been convicted of the same level of charges will face strictly enhanced penalties. Felony penalty enhancements for Texas are set forth by Texas Penal Code § 12.42. These enhancements apply if someone charged with DWI manslaughter has previously been convicted of a second-degree or higher felony. If so, the defendant will be penalized as if convicted of a first-degree felony.
Those charged with DWI intoxication manslaughter may face severe penalties. Therefore, they should craft a strong legal defense to mitigate a conviction’s impact on their life. Because this is such a serious offense, the defendant and their counsel must consider every possible legal avenue against the charges. Some of these are listed below.
Definition Of Intoxication
One cannot be convicted of intoxication manslaughter if they can prove that they were not intoxicated at the time of the accident. Intoxication is legally defined by Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2). There are two ways that someone can meet the requirements for intoxication in the state of Texas. The first is by having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. The other is not having the normal use of one’s physical or mental faculties due to alcohol or other substance use. This second element can be difficult to establish. However, suppose the individual did not have a BAC exceeding .08 and can prove they had normal use of their mental and physical faculties. In that case, they may have a defense against DWI intoxication manslaughter charges in Texas.
Constitutional Rights Violations
In DWI cases, it is common to analyze the facts to see if the police or prosecution violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. However, in DWI intoxication manslaughter cases, there must be a car accident at which the defendant is required to stop and, at the very least, provide information, if not render aid. Therefore, it is difficult to defend against DWI intoxication manslaughter charges with probable cause and reasonable suspicion defenses like a defendant might against standard DWI charges. However, it is still not impossible.
The police can still violate someone’s constitutional rights after an arrest. For example, the police could forget to read the defendant their Miranda rights while taking them into custody. If so, any statements the defendant makes to the police after arrest may be inadmissible in court due to violating a constitutional right. In other cases, the police could refuse a defendant their right to legal counsel. If the right to legal counsel has been properly invoked and the police refuse to allow the defendant to speak to their attorney, key evidence in the case could also be excluded from trial. A defendant facing DWI intoxication manslaughter charges should carefully review the details of their case with an attorney. Constitutional defenses could be vital to excluding evidence and convincing the prosecution to offer reduced penalties or charges.
Chemical Testing Errors
It is not enough for the police to see a driver at the scene of an accident, assume they are drunk, and arrest them for DWI intoxication manslaughter. Before pursuing such serious charges, the police will generally test the defendant’s sobriety with breath, blood, and urine tests. When arrested for DUI or DWI, one should not refuse the breathalyzer test, as Texas law imposes penalties for refusal. Texas’ implied consent laws are laid out by Transportation Code Chapter 724. A driver who refuses a breathalyzer test from a police officer while driving will face an automatic administrative one-year driver’s license suspension. There could also be issues with how the tests were conducted or the results were stored and maintained. Without chemical testing results, the prosecution may be unable to prove that the defendant was intoxicated. Intoxication is a requirement for DWI intoxication manslaughter, which could prove to be a highly effective defense strategy.
Texas Penal Code § 49.08 – The Texas statute regarding manslaughter while driving intoxicated.
Texas Penal Code § 12.33 – The penalty guidelines for a second-degree felony conviction in Texas. This statute is relevant if someone is convicted of DWI intoxication manslaughter.
Texas Penal Code § 12.42 – Sentencing enhancements for prior felony convictions in Texas.
Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2) – The legal definition of the word “intoxicated” as applied in DWI cases.
Texas Transportation Code Chapter 724 – Texas’ implied consent laws. These laws enact an automatic driver’s license suspension if a driver refuses a breath or chemical test while behind the wheel.
Austin Intoxication Manslaughter Lawyer | Travis County, TX
If you have been charged with intoxication manslaughter, a competent defense attorney will consider strategies that you as a defendant might never consider. While this may be a first offense for you, Attorney Jackson F. Gorski has seen many cases and will know the best strategies to create a defense for your particular predicament. He will walk with you through each step of the process to make certain that you’re constantly given fair and legal treatment according to Texas State Law.
Call 512-960-4646 to schedule a free consultation with The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski today. Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin and Georgetown but accepts clients throughout several counties in Texas including Travis County, Williamson County, Bell County, Bastrop County, Burnett County, Hays County, Caldwell County, Blanco County, Lee County, Milam County, Hays County, and Caldwell County.