When you are involved in an accident and someone passes away, you can expect to be charged with intoxication manslaughter. This will be a very overwhelming time for you as this accusation puts your entire future at stake. The penalties for intoxication manslaughter are extremely severe as you are facing being sent to prison. As such, facing this allegation or charge can be frightening.
When you hire The Wilder Law Firm, you will be putting more than 25 years of experience with DWI and intoxication manslaughter charges to work for you. We will thoroughly review all the facts of your case, paying close attention to who was at fault in the accident and whether the alleged intoxication played a role in the death of the individual. When the stakes are this high, your choice in representation can make all the difference in the world. We are difference makers. Call us at 469-551-8609 for immediate help.
What is Intoxication Manslaughter?
In the event of a DWI incident that results in the death of another person, the driver could be charged with intoxication manslaughter. Texas Penal Code 49.08 defines intoxication manslaughter as, “operation of a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated and due to the intoxication, causes the death of someone else.” Unfortunately, intent is not the primary driver of this crime, as it is written into the statute that the crime can occur by mistake or by accident.
We Know How to Defend You – Here’s How We Do It
We are ready to establish the right defense for your intoxication manslaughter case. We will do this by meticulously reviewing the facts of your case and using our expertise, skill, and knowledge to search for the most effective defense for you. A few factors that we will consider in starting your defense are:
- Who was at fault in the accident?
- Was the death due to the intoxication?
- What is normal for you?
- Sobriety testing.
- Chemical testing.
- Police conduct.
- Better safe than sorry, someone passed away.
Who Was At Fault in the Accident
Being intoxicated and involved in an accident where a death occurs is not enough to be convicted of intoxication manslaughter. At a minimum, you have to be at fault for the accident. When someone dies in an accident, we all want to hold someone accountable, especially when someone is accused of being intoxicated. When we investigate who is at fault, it is common to consult an accident reconstruction expert to help make that determination. Just because the police claim you are at fault does not make it so.
Was the Death Due to the Intoxication
We must also determine if the death was due to the intoxication of our client. If you are intoxicated but the other driver caused the accident resulting in a death, you are not responsible. Accidents happen all the time where people die and alcohol was not involved. The exact scenario can occur but now one of the drivers is intoxicated. We always investigate the accident to determine who is at fault and/or if the accident would have occurred regardless of anyone’s intoxication. All mitigating factors must be thoroughly investigated.
What is Normal For You
We all respond to stress and pressure differently and being involved in an accident where a death occurs after consuming alcohol is nothing you can prepare for. This is anything but a normal situation, yet the police will be investigating you to see if you are “normal.” Many people crack under pressure, and this will be one of the most pressure-filled situations you could face. The police will expect you to put all your worries aside and conduct yourself in a calm, orderly fashion and to perform all sobriety tests perfectly. Every aspect of your conduct will be scrutinized, all while you are most likely freaking out.
There are many issues that can affect how valid the results of sobriety tests are, and being involved in an accident where a death occurs is one of them. Officers routinely testify that based upon their training and experience, the accident or death had no effect on my client’s physical or mental faculties (and that is just not true). When you are freaked out that someone just died (or might die), you will be expected to set that aside and pay complete attention to the officer and their instructions and do everything that is requested of you without any difficulty. If you are not freaked out and the officer feels you are paying complete attention to them, that too will be held against you as they will say that behavior is not normal.
In this most stressful situation, the police will still expect you to be perfect on sobriety tests and will claim that any difficulty was due to alcohol and being intoxicated. The sobriety tests are designed to identify impairment, and not demonstrate sobriety. This means you have to be 100% perfect in performing the tests. Anything less than 100% perfection will be taken as a sign of impairment and lead the officer to believe you are intoxicated. Additionally, any difficulty naturally caused by the accident, age, the weather, strobe lights from all the emergency vehicles present, time of day, road surface, traffic, or just being freaked out will be taken as a sign of impairment. It is this type of environment that can make perfection very difficult to obtain.
All aspects of the blood testing process must be scrutinized. There are accepted medical practices that must be followed in cleaning the arm to decontaminate it for the blood draw. The type of blood vial used can also play a role in making sure the integrity of the blood sample is not compromised while waiting to be tested. How the blood is transported and stored can affect the reliability of the results. We have to ensure that all policies and protocols were followed during the actual testing of the blood. Disciplinary records of the chemist will be investigated. There are many problems and errors that occur in labs across the country, and the Garland Crime Lab is no different. The results that get printed on a lab report do not tell the whole story and should never be taken at face value as being valid or accurate.
Better Safe Than Sorry, Someone Passed Away
At times, it is easier to charge someone with intoxication manslaughter just because someone had been drinking and was involved in an accident where a death occurred. These are emotionally filled cases and it is human nature to want to hold someone accountable. It should not happen that way, but it does occur. It takes very little evidence to have probable cause to charge someone with intoxication manslaughter, but that charge still has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Investigating an intoxication manslaughter case can be very stressful and time consuming. There is so much on the line for our client, and we know they are putting their entire future in our hands. We take that responsibility seriously and will do everything we can for you.
Every case is different. We do not approach defending someone with a cookie cutter mentality. The fact scenarios always vary so each and every defense we develop is unique. These are a few places that we will start in your defense, but we will also explore lesser-known defenses to make sure that we establish the right defense for you. Together, we can weaken the state’s case against you and ensure that everything that can be done to defend you is done.
Intoxication Manslaughter Penalties
The penalties for intoxication manslaughter are severe, and you will want to avoid these penalties. In most situations, penalties for this crime include:
- A prison sentence of 2-20 years.
- A fine of up to $10,000.
- Community service up to 1,000 hours.
- DWI education classes.
- A suspension of your driver’s license to last up to 180 days.
- A fee of $1,000-$2,000 for three years to keep your license.
- After you get your license back, the installation of an ignition interlock device on the vehicle(s) you drive.
There are circumstances that carry a higher severity of penalty to include injury to an on-duty firefighter, EMS worker, judge, or peace officer (5-99 years in prison). All other penalties listed above remain the same. Collateral consequences of intoxication manslaughter and DWI are:
- An increase in auto insurance rates.
- A DWI listed on your criminal record.
- Difficulty in further education.
- Difficulty getting or keeping certain professional licenses.
- Difficulty getting or keeping certain jobs.
- Issues with immigration.
- Issues with child custody.
Protecting Your Future is Our #1 Priority
If you face an intoxication manslaughter charge, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and concerned. This is a serious crime, and it deserves a serious defense. Now is not the time to take a chance on just any lawyer. You need our experience on your side to protect and fight for your rights, freedom, and future. Contact The Wilder Law Firm immediately at 469-551-8609.