What is Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas?

Texas is the only state in the country that has created a separate homicide category for situations where an intoxicated motorist causes the death of someone. This crime is called “intoxication manslaughter,” which is treated as an independent offense in Texas. The legal consequences of this offense can be life-altering and your goal should be to hire a highly skilled intoxication manslaughter lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Key Elements in an Intoxication Manslaughter Case


The charge of intoxication manslaughter will only occur when an intoxicated person is operating a vehicle and gets involved in an accident that kills someone. The death need not be instantaneous and the victim may succumb to the injuries later.


Alcohol and drugs are the typical causes of intoxication in these cases, but another substance, a combination of products, or a prescription medication may also cause intoxication. If your BAC level exceeds the permissible limit, you are legally intoxicated even if you do not feel impaired.

Motor Vehicle

Driving while intoxicated can lead to the charge of intoxication manslaughter if someone is killed. However, even a boat operator, or an amusement park ride operator may also face these charges if they are operating while intoxicated and it leads to someone’s death.

Involuntary Intoxication

An experienced intoxication manslaughter lawyer in Texas would know that you can still be guilty even if you did not intent to become intoxicated.  There is no element of intent in intoxication cases in Texas.  This means, unfortunately, that even if you were given a drug or another substance without your knowledge, and it causes you to kill someone while you were driving in an intoxicated state, you will be charged with this crime.  This is why it is so important to hire a very experienced intoxication manslaughter defense attorney like Tyler Flood. 

Penalties For This Offense in Texas

In Texas, intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony. The penalties may include:

·        Incarceration from two to 20 years

·        Up to $10,000 in fines

·        Mandatory community service for at least 240 hours

If certain aggravating factors are present, the second degree felony charge for this crime may be changed to first degree, which could potentially result in a life imprisonment. Aggravating circumstances may include:

·        Prior DWI conviction

·        Prior manslaughter or intoxication assault conviction

·        BAC level of 0.15 or higher

·        The victim for a first responder, such as a police officer

·        A child passenger was present in the vehicle

·        An open container with alcohol was found in the vehicle

Potential Defenses to Fight This Charge

A seasoned intoxication manslaughter lawyer in Texas may try to prove that the victim’s death was not directly correlated to your driving while intoxicated. The goal is to establish reasonable doubt through video footage, eyewitness testimony, or other types of evidence.

For example, your attorney may try to prove that the victim was speeding or jumped a red light, resulting in a crash with your vehicle that caused their death. In this situation, you may be charged with a DWI, but not with a greater offense because the victim’s own actions led to their death.

If you have been charged with intoxication manslaughter in Texas, all hope is not lost. Our team of experienced and passionate criminal defense attorneys at Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. is here to help you. Talk to us today at 713.224.5529 for a free consultation or use this contact form to reach us online.

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