Under Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.08, when someone operates a motor vehicle in a public space, an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride and causes the death of another person by accident or mistake they are charged with intoxication manslaughter, more commonly known as DUI manslaughter.
Due to the high amount of people involved in causing the death of another by driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs recently; Texas lawmakers created the charge of “intoxication manslaughter”. This conviction on your record can be detrimental if not handled by an experienced attorney.
Elements of DUI Manslaughter
Texas Penal Code Sec. 19.04 states that a person commits this offense if they recklessly or accidentally cause the death of an individual while operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride intoxicated. In order for a death of a person to be considered DUI Manslaughter and not murder, that person must have committed this act without malice or premeditation.
A charge of manslaughter is less severe than a murder charge but the penalties for both are severe. The difference between murder and manslaughter is that an individual who commits a murder typically intended, premeditated and had malice to commit the act.
Penalties for DUI Manslaughter
In Texas, a first-time DUI manslaughter offense is a second-degree felony. The penalties for a conviction include a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of incarceration in a Texas State prison for 2-20 years. Your license may also be suspended for up to two years and you may be required to drive with an interlock. Community service and alcohol classes will most likely be required of you as part of your sentence.
Driving under the influence can carry an even more severe charge if there are aggravating factors present at the time of the stop and arrest. Some factors that will up your charge are listed below:
- The accident caused more than 1 death- If more than 1 person was killed in the same accident, a person can be charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter.
- DWI with a minor– Driving intoxicated with someone under the age of 15 years old in the motor vehicle is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days- 2 years in jail and a fine no more than 10,000.
- Leaving the scene of an accident– Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 550.021 states that an individual will be charged with this offense if they don’t immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible, don’t immediately stop without blocking more traffic, don’t return to the accident scene if they don’t initially stop, or don’t remain at the scene of the accident until certain statutory requirements are met. This charge is a third-degree felony.
- The death of a Peace officer, firefighter, or emergency personnel- if an individual caused the death of one or more emergency personnel, this offense can result in a minimum sentence of five years to life imprisonment if convicted.
- 2nd DUI offense- If you have previously been charged with DUI it is likely that you will face jail or prison time if convicted of a 2nd DUI offense.
Possible defenses for DUI Manslaughter
You’re probably thinking what can an attorney really do for you right? With an experienced attorney on your side, you can trust that Dave Parent will handle all matters of your case to the best of his abilities.
Dave Parent will view intoxication test results for validity and can argue any evidence that may have been obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.
The prosecution will need to prove that the defendant’s intoxication was a factor in causing the fatal death to occur. If the victim had a pre-existing medical condition that may have caused their death an attorney can challenge this.
Bexar County Manslaughter DUI Defense Lawyer
Dave Parent is an experienced criminal defense attorney with many years of experience defending people throughout the area. A conviction of DUI manslaughter should be taken very seriously, having an attorney who will pay special attention to the details of your case is vital.
At The Parent Law Firm, we realize that facing serious criminal charges can difficult to deal with. Attorney Dave Parent is knowledgeable about DUI and manslaughter laws in the state of Texas and understands the legal complexes that are a result of certain cases.
It is in your best interest to get an attorney as soon as possible so that we can start working on your case immediately. Contact The Parent Law Firm in San Antonio at 210-819-4111 today for a free evaluation of your case.