Intoxication Manslaughter / DWI or Vehicular Manslaughter
Under Texas law, if an incident of driving while intoxicated (DWI) causes the death of another person, then the driver can be charged with a felony charge of intoxication manslaughter. Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Texas.
When a DWI results in death, then the prosecutors and judges are particularly harsh and unforgiving. Contact an experienced felony DWI attorney to preserve your rights and fight the intoxication manslaughter charges aggressively.
Houston Intoxication Manslaughter Attorney
Horak Law represents individuals charged with serious drunk driving offenses including intoxication manslaughter in Houston for Harris County and in The Woodlands for Montgomery County, Texas. Although Matt Horak created this website to provide you with general information about this specific criminal offense, no substitute exists for speaking directly with an attorney about everything that happened in your case leading up to the accusation of intoxication manslaughter.
DWI causes a Crash with a Fatality in Harris or Montgomery County
Texas Penal Code Section 49.07 provides that an individual commits the offense of intoxication manslaughter if the person operates a motor vehicle in a public place, and is intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by drugs when that intoxication causes the death of another by mistake or accident.
Intoxication Manslaughter Penalties and Punishments
Texas law provides for certain penalties and punishments that the court must impose after a conviction for intoxication manslaughter including the following:
- Incarceration - After a conviction for intoxication assault, the Court is required to impose a prison term of not less than two (2) years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Penitentiary (also known as the Texas State Prison System), although the court can impose imprisonment of up to 20 years behind bars;
- Community Service Hours - Texas law provides that the court must impose at least 240 hours of community service to any probationary term, but the court is permitted to impose up to 800 hours of community service; and
- Fine - A fine of up to $10,000.00.
Blood Tests after a DWI Crash Involving Death
Law enforcement officers investigating a traffic crash involving the death or serious bodily injury of another will often require the driver of any vehicle involved in the crash to submit to a blood test. If the driver is injured during the crash, then medical personnel will take blood in the hospital for standard testings which includes determining the alcohol content of the blood. The prosecutor will then attempt to admit the results of the hospital blood or the police obtained blood at trial to provide that the driver was intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by drugs.
Your Houston DWI lawyer may be able to fight for the exclusion of the results of the blood test if it shows that alcohol or drugs were present in your system after the traffic crash. The results of a blood test should be analyzed carefully through independent testing which can show whether serious mistakes occurred when the blood was tested initially.
Filing and Litigating Motions to Exclude, Suppress, or Dismiss
Matt Horak believes that the best way to fight serious felony DWI charges, including intoxication manslaughter, often demands litigating motions to exclude testimony, motions to suppress evidence, and motions to dismiss the felony criminal charges. Contact Matt Horak's office to schedule a consultation to discuss your case and possible defenses that can be asserted prior to trial.
Protecting Your Rights after a Traffic Crash Involving Death
In some cases, the DWI officers may delay making an arrest for intoxication manslaughter until after the results of the blood test are received. The process of testing the blood can take several months. If you believe that you are under investigation for DWI involving a death, then contact a defense lawyer immediately. Never speak with any police officer about a criminal investigation until you have obtained an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.
Enhanced Penalties for Intoxication Manslaughter
Under Penal Code § 49.09(b-2) if a peace officer, EMS worker or firefighter is injured while in the actual discharge of an official duty then it raises the criminal charge for intoxication manslaughter to a first-degree felony.
“Peace officer” means a person elected, employed, or appointed as a peace officer under Education Code Section 51.212 or 51.214 or Code of Criminal Procedure Article 2.12, or another applicable law.
an individual employed by the State of Texas or a a political or legal subdivision of Texas or who is a member of an organized volunteer fire-fighting unit that renders fire-fighting services without remuneration and conducts a minimum of two drills each months, each at least two hours long or who is subject to certification by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.
“Emergency medical services personnel” means:
- a licensed paramedic; or
- an emergency care attendant; or
- emergency medical technicians - paramedic; or
- emergency medical technicians - intermediate; or
- emergency medical technicians/
“Emergency medical services" means services used to respond to an individual's perceived need for immediate medical care and to prevent aggravation of psychological or physiological injury or illness or death.
Texas Jury Instructions for Intoxication Manslaughter
Looking at the Texas Standard Jury instructions is one of the best ways to understand the elements that must ultimately be proven beyond all reasonable doubt in an intoxication manslaughter case. The jury instructions generally provide:
A person commits the offense of intoxication manslaughter if the person operates a motor vehicle in a public place and is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another person.
- not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of [alcohol or a controlled substance or a drug or a dangerous drug or a combination of two or more of those substances or any substance into the body]; or
- having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
“Alcohol concentration" means the number of grams of alcohol per:
- 100 milliliters of blood;
- 67 milliliters of urine; or
- 210 liters of breath.
Furthermore, Texas law provides that the jury may be instructed on certain terms used above including:
- “Death” includes, for an individual who is an unborn child, the failure to be born alive.
- “Individual” means a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.
- “Motor vehicle” means a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway.
- “Public place” means any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to highways, streets and the common areas of apartment houses, hospitals, transport facilities, schools, shops and office buildings,.
Horak Law | Houston Intoxication Manslaughter Defense Attorney
If the arrest for any DWI offense has already occurred, be aware that Texas law provides for certain deadlines in asserting particular legal defenses. Finding an experienced DWI lawyer in Houston quickly after an arrest is important to preserving all of your rights to aggressively fight the felony charge of intoxication manslaughter in Houston, Harris County, or The Woodlands, Montgomery County, Texas.
You can receive a consultation that will let Matt Horak evaluate your case as soon as you call Horak Law locally at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009.