Around 3,700 people are killed on Texas roads every year.
When road accidents cause death, the drivers responsible can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. However, if they were driving drunk, they can face intoxication manslaughter charges.
These cases are often tragic for everyone involved. But what are these charges and what do they mean?
In this post, we’ll tell you.
What Does an Intoxication Manslaughter Charge Mean?
Read on to find out what intoxication manslaughter charges are, what penalties they carry, and how to beat them.
Defining Intoxication Manslaughter
Intoxicating manslaughter charges are pressed when an individual drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes a car accident. This accident subsequently causes the death of another person, either immediately or later down the line as a result of injuries.
This person could be someone in another car, a passenger in the same car, or a pedestrian in the area.
The reason that the charge of murder isn’t used in these cases is the lack of motive or premeditation. Law enforcement officers can only press murder charges when the defendant deliberately intended to cause the death of their victim.
Since these cases are accidental, the lesser charge of manslaughter is used.
While a defendant may not have intended to cause death, their reckless behavior was the cause. This is defined as ‘criminal negligence’ and is the key to prosecuting a manslaughter case.
Being Under the Influence
While alcohol is often the main cause of these cases, it’s not the only one.
Of course, illegal drugs may also be the cause of intoxication.
However, a person can also become intoxicated after taking prescription drugs, or combining medication with even a small amount of alcohol. Drugs that can inhibit a person’s ability to drive include strong pain relievers, sleeping pills, and anti-depressants.
A driver doesn’t need to feel drunk or high in order to be intoxicated. However, law enforcement officers have to prove that those substances are in their system. They also have to prove that they’re at levels that are over the legal limits.
In order to do this, they use breathalyzers and blood tests.
Complicated Legal Cases
Cases like these can be hard to fight, as the prosecution is usually driven by the family of the victim.
This means they’ll argue aggressively in the courtroom in pursuit of a conviction and a prison sentence.
That’s why you need to find a criminal defense lawyer who’s dedicated to fighting your case long and hard in court. They should have years of experience in similar cases and a history of success in court. That way, that can give you the representation you need.
Make sure you find the best criminal lawyer for your case. Otherwise, you could end up facing the maximum penalties.
In Texas, Intoxication Manslaughter is a second-degree felony.
This can carry a prison sentence ranging from 2-20 years. This means that regardless of the length of the sentence, individuals must serve at least two years before they are eligible for parole. In some cases, this penalty also includes a fine of up to $10,000.
On top of these penalties, those who are convicted are required to complete community service after their prison sentence is complete. At the minimum, they must serve at least 240 hours.
However, severe cases can carry up to 800 additional hours.
The Burden of Proof
The burden of proving your guilt falls on the State of Texas.
Prosecutors need to prove not only that you were intoxicated, but that this intoxication caused both the accident as well as the death of the victim.
How to Beat the Charge
The key to beating any criminal charge is casting reasonable doubt.
This means giving reason to believe that your act of driving under the influence was not the direct cause of the victim’s death.
For example, if you were driving while intoxicated, but the other person failed to stop at a stop sign before the collision, that would be the cause of death.
In order to prove this, a criminal defense lawyer must gather a body of evidence. This may include witness testimony, video footage, phone records, or anything else that can support your case.
An attorney can also challenge the scientific evidence that you were intoxicated. They can do this by questioning the accuracy of the breathalyzer or blood tests that you took.
They can also argue that you were unknowingly intoxicated. This means that you were given drugs or alcohol without your knowledge. As a result, you were not legally responsible for the accident.
If you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you’ll be charged with a DWI. This means that even if you beat the manslaughter charge, you’re like to face this misdemeanor charge.
As a result, your driver’s license will be suspended, but the period of suspension depending on the circumstances.
If you allow law enforcement officers to perform a breathalyzer or blood test, which returns a blood alcohol content of 0.8 or more, your license will be suspended for 90 days.
However, if you refuse to consent to these tests, the suspension will automatically be extended to 180 days.
You can contest a license suspension through an ALR hearing. You have the opportunity to request such a hearing within 15 days of your arrest. Then, a DWI lawyer can plead your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge.
They can fight your DWI charge by arguing that there was a lack of probable cause, police misconduct, or other mitigating factors.
Ask the Experts
If you or someone who know is charged with intoxication manslaughter, it’s vital that you seek legal counsel.
A qualified criminal attorney can build your case. They’ll guide you through the complicated legal process and give you the defense you need. That way, you have the best possible chances of winning your case.
At Madrid Law, we specialize in criminal defense for cases like these. To find out how we can help you, contact us for a consultation.