No one ever intends to commit intoxication manslaughter in Texas, and we all know that driving while intoxicated is a bad idea. As if the danger you pose to yourself and others isn’t already bad enough, the penalties for DWI in Texas are pretty steep.

Just think about it: a first offense DWI can already cost you $2,000 in fines and leave you without a driver’s license for up to one year. But should you commit intoxication manslaughter and kill someone while driving under the influence, those consequences can get much more severe. 

That’s when you need the assistance of a trial-tested Houston intoxication manslaughter lawyer. Thiessen Law Firm’s Mark Thiessen is a triple board-certified lawyer, a true DWI specialist, a Super Lawyer, and an accredited Lawyer-Scientist with a proven track record of Not Guilty verdicts for intoxication manslaughter cases in Texas

As you read more about the penalties for intoxication manslaughter in Texas, keep in mind that Mark is available to provide you with aggressive and experienced defense. 

What Is Intoxication Manslaughter?

Intoxication manslaughter is an unfamiliar term for some. What is intoxication manslaughter? Intoxication manslaughter in the state of Texas is the charge a person receives for causing a fatal motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. Even if you were not technically at fault for the accident, you can still be arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter.

Before we move on to the penalties for intoxication manslaughter in Texas, let’s establish the key differences between a manslaughter case and homicide in a court of law. 

  • In most cases, murder (homicide) requires some sort of motive, premeditation, or conscious action by the offender to kill their victim. 
  • Manslaughter, on the other hand, requires that a victim’s death be the result of “criminal negligence” from the accused, and that the resulting death was not intentional. 
  • In the context of manslaughter in general (not just intoxication manslaughter)  “criminal negligence” means behavior that is reckless beyond all reason, and is performed with disregard for the safety of others. 

In the context of an intoxication manslaughter case, driving while intoxicated would qualify as criminal negligence, making the resulting death a crime regardless of your intent. Specifically, as per Texas Penal Code § 49.08, intoxication manslaughter in Texas is the charge a person receives for causing a fatal motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

In other words, intoxication manslaughter (also called DWI manslaughter) occurs when an individual was driving while intoxicated and caused the death of another person. This law applies only when someone is driving a vehicle and is particular to the state of Texas. 

For more information about the differences between intoxication manslaughter charges and similar charges, please see our article: “The Difference Between Murder, Manslaughter, Intoxication Manslaughter & Vehicular Manslaughter in Texas.”

Intoxication Manslaughter Sentences & Punishments in Texas

What is the penalty for intoxication manslaughter in Texas?

Naturally, intoxication manslaughter sentences and punishments are much more severe than regular DWI or DUI. In Texas, intoxication manslaughter is felony of the second-degree. The State of Texas may punish second-degree felony convictions with penalties of:

  • A 2-20 year prison sentences
  • A fine of up to $10,000. 
  • And a minimum of up to 240 hours of community service, with room for an additional 800 hours at the state’s discretion.

The most common question we hear is, “What is the penalty for killing someone while driving drunk in Texas?” While it’s important to understand the penalties, it’s also critical to understand the long term consequences of an intoxication manslaughter conviction.

In addition to these penalties, as a convicted felon, you may also face problems when searching for work or housing. You may not run for public office. What many people struggle with the most, however, is the damage to their reputation that comes with a felony conviction. 

However, you may be able to beat an intoxication manslaughter case, with the right help. Although it may not feel like it right now, you are still presumed innocent until proven guilty. A skilled intoxication manslaughter lawyer like Mark will work hard to defend you in court so that you can maintain your rights and freedom. 

Keep reading: What is intoxication manslaughter probation in Texas?

How Texas Intoxication Manslaughter Charges are Beaten

One of the most important aspects of beating intoxication manslaughter cases in Texas is proving that your driving while intoxicated was not directly responsible for the other person’s death. Sometimes this can be established through hard evidence such as video footage or eyewitness testimony. Other times, your lawyer must establish reasonable doubt around the circumstances of the accident.

For instance, if you were driving home after a few beers at .08 blood alcohol concentration, and someone plowed through a red light, causing you to hit them, your being intoxicated would not be the direct cause of any subsequent death or injuries. While you might still be guilty of DWI, in this instance the other person is legally responsible for the accident, and therefore, their own death.

Another, more complicated way that intoxication manslaughter charges can be beaten is by utilizing Texas’ “Time of Driving” rules to establish reasonable doubt as to whether or not you were intoxicated at the time of the accident. In Texas, the prosecution is required to prove that you were actually intoxicated at the time of the accident in order to successfully convict you of intoxication manslaughter. The science used by the state to prove this is extremely faulty and can be effectively questioned in court. Mark would know since he used this approach to beat four counts of intoxication manslaughter in his biggest case ever.

You can check out more about our intoxication manslaughter victories here: 

Charged With Intoxication Manslaughter? You Need Mark Thiessen on Your Side.

Even one death as the result of drunk driving is too many, and we hope that all of our fans and followers make wise choices and abstain from drinking and driving. But if you or someone you know is being charged with Houston intoxication manslaughter lawyer, you need to act and you need to act fast.

Instead of asking “How many years do you get for intoxication manslaughter?” we encourage you to ask, who is the best-equipped lawyer to fight for my freedom?

Mark Thiessen is a trial-tested Houston DWI attorney who has helped his clients successfully beat intoxication manslaughter charges using science, aggressive tactics, and a strong DWI expertise. He possesses the unique expertise necessary to defend those accused of intoxication manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter. 

Mark has even tried and won a case involving quadruple intoxication manslaughter. To get the right start fighting your charges call us at 713-864-9000 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.

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Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.