A man is facing intoxication manslaughter charges in the death of his wife in a traffic accident in which he was the driver. The incident occurred in north Houston last week at approximately midnight on Greens Road at I-45 North Freeway.
The driver was travelling east on Greens Road when he struck a pole at the intersection. His passenger, identified as his 60-year-old wife, was critically injured in the accident and later died at the hospital. She was not wearing a seatbelt.
According to the Houston police, the man was uncooperative and appeared intoxicated at the scene. The accident remains under investigation.
What is intoxication manslaughter?
In Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense that carries severe penalties. According to statute, “intoxicated” can mean more than just alcohol use. Not only is impairment determined from an alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or more, but also from the presence of either a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug or a combination of two or more of these substances.
When injuries or fatalities result from an alleged DWI, the penalties are far worse than just the DWI in the Lone Star State. Suspects can face aggravated charges resulting in enhanced penalties and extended prison time, and include:
- Intoxication Assault: Penal Code 49.07, in which serious bodily injury with a substantial risk of death, disfigurement or loss or impairment of function occurs if the individual accused of DWI unintentionally commits the offense while operating a motor vehicle on a public road
- Intoxication Manslaughter: Penal Code 49.08, in the occurrence of the death of another when an individual accused of DWI commits the offense while operating a motor vehicle on a public road
Both of these are felony charges. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony carrying two to ten years in state prison, while intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony carrying two to twenty years in state prison with fines of up to $10,000.
Fighting the charges
Fortunately for individuals who are facing enhanced DWI charges, the bar is very high for the prosecution to be able to prove that the suspect’s level of intoxication was the unique cause of the serious injury or death of another in an accident.
It is possible to fight to have the charges reduced or dropped if there was circumstantial evidence or there were irregularities in the arrest procedure or inaccuracies in the chemical tests. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side from the beginning can help to minimize the damage done to your life.