When someone dies as a result of criminal behavior, the law comes down hard on the person responsible for the death. If the driver of a vehicle or the operator of a boat is legally intoxicated and causes the death of another person, extreme punishments may result.
DWI (driving while intoxicated, also known as DUI or drunk driving) is a common offense in Texas that usually results in a misdemeanor charge, with both criminal and civil penalties imposed if an alleged offender is convicted.
The situation is incredibly more serious, though, when an alleged DWI incident results in the death of another person, which may lead to a charge of Intoxication Manslaughter (or DWI Manslaughter) under Section 49.08 of the Texas Penal Code. Intoxication Manslaughter without aggravating circumstances is a second-degree felony in Texas.
The person responsible for the death may be locked up for years in the Texas State Prison, required to pay heavy fines, and face a long list of other penalties before, during, and after incarceration.
Regardless of the driver's intent, the law makes no provision for an accidental death; intent to kill another person need not be proved to gain a conviction for Intoxication Manslaughter. Indeed, a prosecutor will often attempt to show that the driver used the vehicle as a deadly weapon.
If you were charged with Intoxication Manslaughter for causing the death of another person as a result of driving under the influence (DUI), it is vital that talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
The knowledgeable DWI attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy are experienced in handling all kinds of DWI charges, including felony drunk driving cases. We can defend you both in court and in civil (administrative) proceedings. (You only have 15 days after an arrest to request an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing to keep your driver's license if you either refused to submit to a chemical test for alcohol or if you failed a blood or breath test.)
Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy represents clients throughout Collin County, including Plano, Garland, McKinney, Carrollton, Richardson, Frisco and Allen, as well as clients in Grayson and Rockwall counties. Call Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at (469) 304-3422 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation, where we can review your case and explain your legal options.
The Texas Penal Code, Title 10, Chapter 49, § 49.08 states that a person commits the offense of Intoxication Manslaughter if he or she:
Note: The Texas Penal Code, Title 1, Chapter 1, § 1.07(26) states that an "individual" is a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth. Section 49.12 of the Penal Code states that DWI manslaughter does not apply to the death of an unborn child if the alleged offender is the mother of the unborn child.
Accidents that result in separate fatalities will often result in separate charges. This means that an offender convicted for the deaths of two people for intoxication manslaughter may be ordered to serve the sentences consecutively (one sentence begins after the other has been completed) instead of concurrently (at the same time).
The terms related to Intoxication Manslaughter are defined in the Texas statutes, including motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, amusement ride, mobile amusement ride, intoxicated alcohol concentration.
Texas defines a "motor vehicle" as "a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks," such as railroad cars (Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 32, Subchapter C, § 32.34(2)). Motor vehicles include cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, water scooters, airplanes, helicopters and even riding lawn mowers, but not trains.
"Aircraft" is defined in the Texas Transportation Code, Title 3, Chapter 24, § 24.001(1) as "a device that is invented, used, or designated for air navigation or flight, other than a parachute or other device used primarily as safety equipment."
A "watercraft" is defined in § 49.01(4) of the Texas Penal Code as any of the following:
"Amusement ride" means "a mechanical device that carries passengers along, around, or over a fixed or restricted course or within a defined area for the purpose of giving the passengers amusement, pleasure, or excitement" (Texas Occupations Code, Title 13, Subtitle D, Chapter 2151, Subchapter A, § 2151.002(1)).
In addition, a person must have "actual physical control" of a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride in order to be "operating" the vehicle.
"Mobile amusement ride" means "an amusement ride that is designed or adapted to be moved from one location to another and is not fixed at a single location" (Id., § 2151.002(6)).
"Intoxicated" is defined under the Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2) as:
Under Texas P.C. § 49.01(1), "alcohol concentration" (also known as blood alcohol concentration or BAC) means the number of grams of alcohol per:
Intoxication Manslaughter is classified as a second-degree felony, but aggravating factors may elevate the charge to a first-degree felony, with enhanced penalties. Intoxication Manslaughter may be punished as a first-degree felony if it is shown at trial that the offender caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer, a firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty
A charge of Intoxication Manslaughter may result from any type of motor vehicle or boating accident. Even if only one car or boat is involved, the prosecutor may proceed with charges against the vehicle or vessel operator even if family members of the deceased person refuse to press charges.
Criminal punishments for Intoxication Manslaughter are harsh, depending on the severity of the offense:
In addition to the penalties listed above, the additional civil (administrative) punishments may include any of the following:
Other criminal charges often accompany a charge of Intoxication Manslaughter. Some of these include:
Texas Penal Code — Intoxication Manslaughter — Read the Texas state laws related to Intoxication Manslaughter and other statutes that address intoxication-related crimes.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) — Alcohol Related Offenses — The Texas DPS offers information about DWI and related matters on its website, including driver’s license suspensions and reinstating a license after an intoxication manslaughter offense.
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) — Crash Reports — Access crash reports at the TxDOT website, which also has statistics about alcohol-related accidents and crashes. A Collin County office is located at:
Collin County TxDOT Office
1800 North Graves, Suite 165
McKinney, TX 75070
Phone: (972) 547-5020
If you were charged with Intoxication Manslaughter in Plano, Texas, or in Collin County, Texas or anywhere north or northeast of Dallas, contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
The experienced DWI attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy know the laws related to intoxication manslaughter and we will evaluate your case and help you devise a strategy to defend yourself. Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy serves clients throughout Collin County, including Plano, McKinney, Garland, Carrollton, Richardson, Allen, and Frisco, as well as Grayson and Rockwall counties.
Our qualified lawyers may be able to find problems with the prosecution's case, flaws in the DWI tests that were conducted, or with the arrest itself, which may result in a reduction or dismissal of charges. You have little time to lose in order to retain your driving privileges, so contact Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (469) 304-3422 about your case.