Texas Penal Code § 49.08. Intoxication Manslaughter.

Posted on by Paul Cannon

Ever wonder what the penalty is if someone drives drunk and causes the death of another person or causes serious injury?  Causing the death of another while driving under the influence falls under the following law:

Texas Penal Code § 49.08. Intoxication Manslaughter.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and

(2) is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.

(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.

A second degree felony is punishable in Texas as follows:

§ 12.33. SECOND DEGREE FELONY PUNISHMENT.

(a) An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years.

(b) In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Causing serious bodily injury while intoxicated falls under this law:

Texas Penal Code § 49.07 Intoxication Assault.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person, by accident or mistake:

(1) while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated, or while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another; or

(2) as a result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated causes serious bodily injury to another.

(b) In this section, “serious bodily injury” means injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

(c) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.

A third degree felony is punishable in Texas as follows:

§ 12.34. THIRD DEGREE FELONY PUNISHMENT.

(a) An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years.

(b) In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Please don’t drink and drive. If you need to speak to a drunk driving accident lawyer, call us or visit our main website page dedicated to representing victims of drunk driving accidents.

Author Paul Cannon:Personal injury trial lawyer in Houston for Simmons & Fletcher, P.C. Paul Cannon is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in trial law, a distinction only a small percentage of trial attorneys in Texas earn.

Posted in Auto Injury, DWI & DUI | Tagged , , | 2 Comments
2 comments on “Texas Penal Code § 49.08. Intoxication Manslaughter.
  1. Parker McDonald says:

    Section (a)(2) raises a question in my mind. It seems that to ascertain that the accident was a result of the alcohol would be completely circumstantial. For instance, in the case of an ice-over, a sober individual has almost as great a chance as an inebriated one, to accidentally swerve and lose control of the vehicle. In this case, are there any procedures or standards to help dictate the true cause of the accident, or is it up to the justice system to decide?

    Thanks for the post, these little tidbits of information are good to have on tap.

    • paul says:

      The short answer would be that this is something that must be decided on a case-by-case basis by a jury of 12. One could craft an argument in almost any case that the negligence that caused the accident was independent from the intoxication. But I think the reality is, If you are driving while over the legal limit and you negligently cause a collision, there is an unspoken presumption that the intoxication caused or contributed to the negligence.

      Alcohol slows reaction time. So in virtually any scenario, it will play a factor in a driver’s ability to see, identify and avoid a hazard. While one might argue that it is a due process violation of drunk drivers to allow a conviction without specific proof that it was the alcohol use that resulted in the wreck vs just simple negligence, the law errs on the side of protecting the victim’s rights here not the drunk driver’s rights. (Could be because there really is not a big lobby for drunk drivers in Austin!)

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