Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas
2ND DEGREE FELONY
Texas law states that if a person commits an offense if a person operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.
Most Judges will not put an ignition interlock as a condition of your bond if it is your 1st DWI. However, if you are charged with Intoxicated Assault, Manslaughter, or a subsequent DWI (no matter how long ago your 1st DWI was), you are required by law to install an ignition interlock device on your car. You also are not allowed to drive any vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock device. If the device determines a certain level of alcohol on your breath, it will temporarily disable your vehicle. When driving, you have to continuously blow into the device about every 20 minutes. It becomes extremely difficult to entertain a client, conduct real estate business, or drive the kids and friends to school with this device in your car.
Range of Punishment
Penitentiary: Confinement in the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) for not less than 2 years to 20 years.
Fine: A fine not to exceed $10,000.
Common Probation Conditions
Jail Time: If probation is granted, you must serve a minimum of 120 days in jail as a condition of the probation.
Monthly Reporting: You will be ordered to report to your probation officer each month. Absent an emergency, there is no excuse for not reporting. "I couldn’t make it this month, I had to go to work" is not a valid excuse. "I did not have the probation fee" is not a valid excuse. Even if you cannot pay the monthly probation fee, you have to report. Failure to report can result in your probation being revoked and you being put in jail.
Community Service: Texas law mandates that you perform a minimum of 200 hours, not more than 800 hours of community service if granted probation.
Fine: You will have to pay a fine through probation and you should expect to pay at least $2,500.
Court Costs: You will have to pay court costs which will cost you approximately $300.
Deep Lung Air Device: This is formally called the "ignition interlock." In order to start your car, you have to blow into the device, and if it detects a certain amount of alcohol, it will not let you start your car. Some devices require you to blow into it every 20 minutes the car is being driven. This is discretionary with first DWIs, but is mandatory for all subsequent DWIs as a condition of probation, and as a requirement of your bond.
Alcohol/Drug Evaluation: You will have to be evaluated to see if you have a alcohol or drug problem. This is done through a government agency, not through your own provider. If they deem you to have a problem, you will have to pay for, and comply with any recommended treatment. If you were to receive a bad evaluation, the ignition interlock most likely will be added as a condition of your probation. You could also be ordered to attend AA meetings as a condition of your probation, regardless of the results of your evaluation.
Consume No Alcohol: Some courts mandate that you consume no alcohol whatsoever. This means you cannot take any medicine that contains alcohol. For instance, you have a cold and take medicine with alcohol in it. You then go to your car that unfortunately has the ignition interlock device. You blow into the device and it prevents your car from starting. Because your car will not start, you miss you probation meeting. Your probation officer gets the report on the ignition interlock device and it shows you had alcohol in your system just prior to your missed probation meeting. Or, you make your meeting and they compel you give a urine sample that tests positive for alcohol. Under these very likely (and common) situations, you most likely are going to have your probation revoked and be put in jail!
Antabuse Drug: This is a drug that makes individuals violently ill when mixed with alcohol. Mouthwash and foods marinated in alcohol cause this adverse effect. You have to take it every day of the week (excluding Saturday & Sunday) in front of your probation officer or any law enforcement personnel. This is becoming more popular for felony probations.
DWI Education Class: Within 180 days of being placed on probation, you will have to pay for and successfully complete an approved course. If you fail to do so within 180 days, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for 1 year. If you were a minor at the time of the DWI, your license will automatically be suspended for 1 year as a result of the conviction, and you will still be ordered to complete this course.
Victim Impact Panel: This course is presented by M.A.D.D. Victims of drunk drivers speak at these courses and tell you how their lives were adversely affected by drunk drivers, in hopes of educating you so you will not drink and drive anymore.
Employment: You will be ordered to work faithfully at suitable employment during probation. If you do not have a job, you will be forced to try and find one, and the probation department will monitor your efforts. Further, you have to allow your probation officer to visit you at work if they want to.
Commit No Crimes: Obviously, do not commit any other crimes. Any violation of the law can result in your probation being revoked. I have never heard of someone having their probation revoked for a simple speeding ticket (excluding a reckless driving charge as a result) or for failing to use a turn signal (Class "C" traffic violation). But a Class "C" Public Intoxication most certainly will result in your probation being revoked.
Residence: You can be ordered to stay within the State of Texas or even within a specific county during probation, and if you want to go on a trip, you will have to get permission from your probation officer first. Further, if you move, you will have to tell your probation officer within 5 days. You also have to allow your probation officer to visit you in your home if they want to.
Probation Fees: Every time you report to probation, you will have to pay them for your visit. The fee is approximately $60 per month.
Drug Testing: At your probation officer’s discretion, you can be compelled to give a sample of your breath, blood, or more commonly your urine to determine the presence of any alcohol or drugs, and you will have to pay for the test.
Nightlife & Business Luncheons/Dinners: The Judge has to authority to ban you from all bars, night clubs, honkey tonks, saloons, or any establishment that serves alcohol! Keep in mind, the Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars, and Rangers all serve alcohol at their games.
Electronic Monitoring: Although unusual, Judges can require you to submit to electronic monitoring. You will be forced to wear a device (about the size of a pager) around your ankle. You will be allowed outside your home during specified periods of time. If you are not at home when required, the monitor knows it, and your probation can be revoked.
Crime Stoppers: Most Judges will order you to make a one time payment to Crime Stoppers, ranging from $20-50.
More Conditions: The Judge may impose any other condition they seem fit for your probation. Judges have ordered probationers to remove all alcohol from their house. This included Vanilla Extract, Nyquil, and Mouthwash!
Remember, if a person is involved in an accident where a death occurs, or there is the risk of death, the police can compel the person to give a sample of their blood for alcohol or drug analysis, which could result in a subsequent prosecution for Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter.
Note: A vehicle can be a deadly weapon. If you are convicted of Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter and the Court or Jury finds that you committed the offense with a deadly weapon, you may be ineligible to receive probation at all!
My goal in defending you is to try and ensure that you do not have to face any of these potential penalties or the stigma of being a convicted criminal for life.
Our DUI/DWI criminal defense attorneys have a proven record of winning the most difficult cases. In addition to their superior litigation skills, our attorneys have guided many people with what to do if stopped for drunk driving and about Driver’s License Suspension cases.