An accident that leaves a person seriously injured or dead will no doubt get the attention of Houston’s police and prosecutors. They will investigate such accidents carefully. As part of their investigation; they will try to determine if the responsible driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Under Texas law, if a person drives a vehicle while intoxicated and causes the death of someone else, even their own passengers, they may face a felony intoxication manslaughter charge.
The person may be legally intoxicated by drugs, alcohol or some combination of both when facing this charge. Whether someone is intoxicated can be based on the opinion of the authorities. The police do not have to produce a blood or urine test. However, to get this type of manslaughter conviction, authorities will have to prove that the accused’s intoxication caused the accident.
Also, people need not have been driving reckless or intending to cause harm. For example, simply going over the speed limit and causing a fatal accident could be enough. Anyone from any walk of life can face an intoxication manslaughter charge.
The penalties for intoxicated manslaughter are serious
Intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony under Texas law. The penalty can be more serious in certain circumstances.
In addition to fines, a person can spend up to 20 years in prison for a second-degree felony. Other serious consequences are also possible. Moreover, the person will have to live with a felony conviction indefinitely, which could make it much harder to find a job and enjoy their lives.
On a related point, someone who, while intoxicated, causes a serious injury in an automobile accident, will face intoxication assault charges. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony, which could carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Houston residents facing an intoxication manslaughter charge may feel like they are living through a nightmare.
They probably already feel horrible for being involved in an accident where lives were lost. Even if they have no prior experience with the justice system, they also must stare down the prospect of prison and a completely different life, even after they serve their time.
Defenses are available to these charges. Those facing them should make sure they understand their legal rights and options.