Jake, a nineteen-year-old, has just left a fraternity party at around 10 pm in Houston and decides to drive home, a little outside the city, regardless of his drunken state. He and his two college roommates stagger into the vehicle and drive off. Fifteen minutes later, the car they’re using swerves into a pole along the road. Chris dies on the spot. Tommy and Jake fall unconscious, and Tommy dies in the ambulance while going to the hospital. Jake only sustains minor injuries.
Jake is later convicted of two separate counts of manslaughter, and lands twelve years in prison, eligible for parole after six years.
This case study describes several cases of drunk drivers or drivers who are under the influence of drugs such as cocaine or meth, who have caused fatal accidents. Many of them, resulting in the death of more than just one person. Such cases, although involving murder, are not treated as homicides, but as involuntary manslaughter, since there is no malicious intent actually to kill. The penalties for such an offense may include prison sentences, fines, and community service, although the maximum for each differs from state to state. You would need legal representation in a situation like this. If you or a loved one were arrested for Driving While Intoxicated, the best DWI lawyer in Houston is Tad Nelson.
Texas Law & DWI Incidents
Texas law already considers the act of DWI, negligent or reckless, as long as the driver indulged voluntarily. Therefore, in the example of the teenage driver, no additional evidence is needed to prove that he is negligent while driving, because his blood alcohol level is over 30, and admitted to the police officers of having got drunk willfully while in the party. There is no further need to prove his absence of malicious intent. However, that alone, will not show that his intoxication caused the death of his two roommates, according to the same law. It is the prosecution’s burden to prove beyond any reasonable doubt, that it is indeed the cause of the resulting deaths.
In the described case study, it is easy to see the relationship between the teenager’s drinking, and the death of his friends. In some other cases, however, such as those involving multiple factors, there may be a few twists and turns. If and when, they establish the cause of death as driving while impaired or intoxicated, getting a conviction is the next step. In Texas, that can vary from two to twenty years, with a fine of up to ten thousand dollars and community service of up to 275 hours.
What happens to a convicted felon post-release?
Being a second-degree felony under Texas law, conviction of such a crime will also attract the loss of rights such as the ability to hold a state office, ownership or possession of a gun before completion of five years after release, being enlisted in the armed forces as well as service on a jury. Once the sentence is complete, one may be allowed to vote. It is also quite challenging to acquire housing or employment after having a record of this type of offense, although the law seeks to reduce discrimination by state agencies that give licenses needed for particular occupations.
Individuals who have committed intoxication manslaughter among other second degree felonies are pardoned, but there are several factors to consider, and the governor ends up issuing only a select few, which result in an expunged crime from one’s records.
In conclusion, as compared to other states, Texas has relatively less severe penalties for intoxicated manslaughter. By observation, the largest category of offenders involves teenagers and young adults, which may indicate that this group of individuals is more likely to drive while intoxicated, and as a result, cause fatal accidents.