While DWI (driving while intoxicated) itself is a very serious offense, the most serious offense related to such a crime is intoxication manslaughter. This is no coincidence—the whole purpose of law enforcement serving and protecting other civilian drivers from those drivers who are intoxicated is to maintain their safety from serious injury or death. When an intoxicated driver kills someone by accident or mistake, the offense is referred to as intoxication manslaughter, and its penalties are very serious indeed.
What Constitutes Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas?
In the state of Texas, the law defines “intoxication manslaughter” as follows:
“An individual is committing the offense of intoxication manslaughter if that person operates a motor vehicle in a public space, an aircraft, a watercraft, an amusement ride, or assembles an amusement ride while being intoxicated with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than or equal to .08% in which the aforementioned intoxication causes the death of another by mistake or accident.”
Prosecutors charge a defendant with manslaughter when the defendant unintentionally kills someone through his or her reckless behavior. Many states have different classifications of manslaughter, including vehicular manslaughter for when a driver acts recklessly. Texas law has a charge of intoxication manslaughter that is separate from vehicular manslaughter. Texas prosecutors bring intoxication manslaughter charges against defendants involved in fatal accidents who are suspected of driving while intoxicated. Defendants who are convicted of intoxication manslaughter may receive severe penalties.
Intoxication Manslaughter Charges
The difference between vehicular manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter is the allegation of intoxicating substances being involved the incident. The victim can be someone in another vehicle, a passenger in the defendant’s vehicle or a pedestrian. In order to prove intoxication manslaughter, the prosecution must show that:
Texas motorists can refuse to take a field sobriety test when police officers pull them over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Officers use the test to determine if motorists have any physical or mental impairments, and the test results can be evidence in DWI cases. There is no penalty for refusing a field sobriety test, but the driver may still be arrested if the officer believes there are other signs of DWI. If the case goes to trial, prosecutors may claim that refusing the test is evidence of guilt.
Whether you are sober or not, you are taking a risk if you agree to a field sobriety test. You may perform poorly during the test due to factors other than sobriety, such as the surrounding environment or a natural lack of balance. Your test performance can be considered evidence that you were impaired, even if your blood alcohol content was below the legal limit. The National Highway Safety Administration has three standard sobriety tests.
The Law Offices of Sam H. Lock, with offices in San Antonio and Seguin, Texas, provides criminal defense representation for people charged with state and federal crimes throughout Texas and the United States, including San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Midland, Pecos, Waco, Hondo, New Braunfels, Laredo, Kerrville, San Marcos, Boerne, and Del Rio, Bexar County, Guadalupe County, Comal County, Wilson County, Gonzales County, Kendall County, Bandera County, Caldwell County, Hays County, Travis County, Medina County, Blanco County, Burnet County, Atascosa County, Live Oak County, Nueces County, Uvalde County.