Facing a jail sentence for vehicular manslaughter or intoxication manslaughter in Houston is no walk in the park. Although the accident was likely unintentional, you face heavy charges that need to be taken very seriously, and which require the expertise of a Houston DWI attorney to address them.
Here are the 3 things you should know about vehicular and intoxication manslaughter in Texas.
What is vehicular manslaughter vs. intoxication manslaughter?
First things first, what is vehicular manslaughter? Simply put, vehicular manslaughter occurs when a person causes the death of another human as a result of reckless or negligent driving behavior. The death may be of a passenger in the driver’s vehicle, an occupant in another vehicle, or a pedestrian. To make matters more complex, even a pedestrian can be charged with vehicular manslaughter if their actions somehow lead to the death of another.
Intoxication manslaughter occurs when a person is legally intoxicated and causes the death of another human being as a result of their driving behavior. In terms of definitions, the biggest difference between vehicular manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter is that the latter charge requires that the driver was intoxicated.
For more information about the differences between these charges, please see our blog: “The Difference Between Murder, Manslaughter, Intoxication Manslaughter & Vehicular Manslaughter in Texas.”
1) How the court determines jail sentences for vehicular manslaughter
Can you go to jail for vehicular manslaughter? Yes. How your unintentional vehicular manslaughter case pans out will typically be determined by the severity of your reckless driving. For example, if you were driving 5 mph over the speed limit, this might only result in a misdemeanor charge. But what is the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter? Frankly, the maximum sentences are some of the most common cases: vehicular manslaughter cases are often treated as felonies.
2) When intoxication manslaughter comes into play
In Texas, if you cause the death of another person while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, this is known as intoxication manslaughter, or sometimes DWI manslaughter. And in this case, a vehicle can mean anything from a car to a boat to an airplane.
Of course, jail sentences for DWI manslaughter are much more aggressive than the standard drinking and driving charge. It is considered a second-degree felony that can result in up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. For more information, take a look at our article on the penalties for intoxication manslaughter in Texas.
Here are some additional resources that might help you out:
- Texas DWI Laws: First Offenses
- Everything You Need to Know About the Texas Legal Alcohol Limit in Texas
- What a DWI Lawyer Can Do For Your Case (And How to Choose One)
3) The types of driving that result in higher jail sentences for intoxication manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter
There are more than a few actions that can result in higher charges for vehicular manslaughter cases — some of which are certainly less negligent or reckless than others, making vehicular manslaughter cases extra difficult to maneuver.
Here are some examples of common situations that can lead to higher intoxication manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter charges:
- Using your phone
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (including prescription drugs)
- Taking your eyes off the road (for example, reaching into the backseat to grab something)
- Ignoring safety signs (anything from an illegal U-turn to bad windshield wipers)
- Driving over or under the speed limit
- Racing other vehicles
- Driving with little to no sleep
If you were guilty of any of these additional driving issues, it can make your case more difficult, but an experience defense lawyer will know where to look for viable defenses. Barring the ability to win you a Not Guilty verdict or a case dismissal in an intoxication manslaughter case, your defense lawyer may also be able to get your charges reduced to intoxication manslaughter probation.
4. Your lawyer can make all the difference
When facing jail sentences for vehicular manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter, your lawyer can make all the difference. In other words, it’s time to contact an expert.
With steep fines and heavy jail time involved in vehicular and intoxication manslaughter cases, it’s important to seek the help of a Houston intoxication manslaughter defense attorney who specializes in DWI — someone like Mark Thiessen.
Mark Thiessen is a triple board-certified lawyer, a true DWI specialist, a SuperLawyer, and an accredited Lawyer-Scientist with a proven track record of Not Guilty verdicts for intoxication manslaughter cases in Texas. He possesses the unique expertise necessary to defend those accused of intoxication manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter.
Start building your intoxication manslaughter defense today. Contact Thiessen Law Firm now to set up your free consultation: 713-864-9000.
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