What is the Penalty for Vehicular Manslaughter While Drunk in Texas?

The penalty for vehicular manslaughter while drunk is:

  • Jail time
  • Fines
  • License suspension

How Much Jail Time Will I Face for Committing Vehicular Manslaughter While Drunk?

Committing vehicular manslaughter while drunk — called Intoxication Manslaughter in the Texas Penal Code (TPC) — carries a minimum second-degree felony charge.

Upon conviction for a second-degree felony, you face a prison sentence of 2 to 20 years.

You could face a longer prison sentence if any of the following factors apply to your offense:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tested at 0.15 or above
  • You have prior DWI convictions
  • You have prior Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter convictions
  • The victim was a police officer, firefighter, or another type of first responder
  • You had a minor child (under age 15) in the vehicle
  • You had an open alcohol container in the vehicle

Killing a first responder in a DWI accident will garner first-degree felony charges. You could face life in prison if convicted.

What Are the Fines for Committing Vehicular Manslaughter While Drunk?

In Texas, a second-degree intoxication manslaughter charge will subject you to a fine of up to $10,000.

You must also pay all associated court fees and costs as well as any costs associated with court-ordered counseling, rehabilitation, or alcohol education courses. If the judge mandates the installation of a breath-activated ignition locking device in your car, you must pay the cost of that as well.

Once your driver’s license suspension ends, you must pay an annual surcharge of up to $2,000 per year to reactivate and keep your license, for a total of three years.

The court may also impose supervised probation (known as community supervision in Texas) and require you to perform community service.

How Long Is the License Suspension for DWI Vehicular Manslaughter in Texas?

Upon arrest for vehicular manslaughter while drunk, the police will confiscate your driver’s license, triggering an administrative process known as Administrative License Revocation or ALR, conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS).

Unless you request a formal hearing, TxDPS will suspend your license for a period of six months to two years, even if the court drops the charges or the prosecutor fails to get a conviction.

You may become eligible for an occupational license; however, TxDPS may require a waiting period before it will consider your request.

Can You Get Reduced Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter While Drunk?

To get the penalties reduced for intoxication manslaughter in Texas, one of the following events must occur.

You must negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges: In some cases, the prosecutor may agree to reduce the charges against you if you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. This typically only occurs if you or your DWI lawyer can demonstrate some flaw in the case that might make getting a conviction difficult or impossible.

You must petition the court to reduce or dismiss the charges: In some situations, the police may violate your legal rights or make mistakes that could invalidate the evidence against you. Or, during chemical testing for BAC, the technician or testing lab may make errors that call the validity of the test into question. In that case, your lawyer can ask the court to dismiss the case or consider a reduction in charges.

You must win your case at trial: The prosecutor in an intoxication manslaughter case must meet a high burden of proof and prove every element of the charge.

The four elements of intoxication manslaughter that the prosecutor must prove are as follows:

  1. You were driving in a public place
  2. You met the statutory definition for intoxication while you drove
  3. Your intoxication caused an accident
  4. The accident caused a fatality

If the prosecutor cannot prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, he may struggle to get a conviction, especially if your lawyer can potentially introduce reasonable doubt of your guilt.

Can a Texas DWI Lawyer Help?

Vehicular manslaughter is a serious crime for which you face potentially life-changing penalties that will profoundly affect your future as well as your freedom.

The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg represents Texas clients facing criminal charges for DWI and intoxication manslaughter. With over 30 years of experience in the Texas criminal justice system, Randall clearly understands the challenges associated with complex cases of this nature.

Our legal team will work tirelessly on your behalf, to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. We offer a complimentary consultation and case review during which you can learn more about the rights you have and how we might be able to protect your freedom and future. Contact us today at 214-696-9253 to learn more or to schedule your appointment.

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