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Intoxication Manslaughter

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.

Lawyers for Intoxication Manslaughter in Collin County, Texas

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 The 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.)

The 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 The 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.


Information about Intoxication Manslaughter in Collin County


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Intoxication Manslaughter in Collin County

The Texas Penal Code, Title 10, Chapter 49, § 49.08 states that a person commits the offense of Intoxication Manslaughter if he or she:

  • Operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, or
  • Operates an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated, or assembles a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated, and
  • By reason of that intoxication causes the death of another person by accident or mistake

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).

Definitions of Terms Related to Intoxication Manslaughter

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:

  • A vessel
  • One or more water skis
  • An aquaplane
  • Another device used for transporting or carrying a person on water, other than a device propelled only by the current of water

"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:

  • Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body;  or
  • Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more

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:

  • 210 liters of breath
  • 100 milliliters of blood, or
  • 67 milliliters of urine

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Texas Penalties for Intoxication Manslaughter

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:

  • Second-Degree Felony — Punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, or both
  • First-Degree Felony — Punishable by five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, or both

In addition to the penalties listed above, the additional civil (administrative) punishments may include any of the following:

  • Administrative and court fees
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Mandatory attendance at a DWI education class
  • Required Drug or Alcohol Assessment
  • Random drug or alcohol testing
  • Mandatory alcohol or drug treatment program
  • Probation and/or community service (up to 1,000 hours)
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Driver Responsibility Surcharges of $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years imposed by the state Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Expensive SR-22 insurance
  • Loss of the right to vote or own a gun due to a felony conviction
  • Limited professional and educational opportunities as a result of a felony conviction

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Offenses Related to Intoxication Manslaughter

Other criminal charges often accompany a charge of Intoxication Manslaughter. Some of these include:

  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Personal Injury or Death, (“Hit and Run”), Texas Transportation Code § 550.021 — It is a second-degree felony if the alleged offender is involved in an accident resulting in the death of another person and does not:
    • Immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible
    • Immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident
    • Immediately determine whether another person is involved in the accident, and if a person is involved in the accident, whether that person requires aid, or
    • Remain at the scene of the accident until exchanging information and/or rendering aid
  • Vehicular Manslaughter, Texas Penal Code § 19.04 — It is a second-degree felony if the alleged offender recklessly causes the death of an individual while operating a vehicle
  • Intoxication Assault, Texas Penal Code § 49.07 — It is a third-degree felony if the alleged offender causes serious bodily injury to another person by accident or mistake while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in a public place
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide, Texas Penal Code § 19.05 — It is a state jail felony if the alleged offender causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence
  • Driving with an Invalid License, Texas Transportation Code § 521.457(f-2) — It is a Class A misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle with a canceled, suspended, revoked, or expired driver's license when an alleged offender causes or is at fault in a motor vehicle accident that results in death

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Additional Resources

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

Find Attorneys for Intoxication Manslaughter Charges in Plano, Texas

If you were charged with Intoxication Manslaughter in Plano, Texas, or in Collin County, Texas or anywhere north or northeast of Dallas, contact The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

The experienced DWI attorneys at The 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. The 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 The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at 469-304-3422 about your case.

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