Incidents of drunk driving, unfortunately, continue to run rampant here in Texas. Many times drunk driving leads to a fatal accident. Just recently, right here in Denton, Texas, a drunk driver caused the death of four innocent people. Wilson Rene Molinares, a 22-year-old student at Texas State, was driving his car in the opposite direction down I-35 northbound. He then collided with a van killing its four occupants. This accident was so bad that it took four two hours to pry the van apart to get the deceased out. A blood search warrant was ordered to determine if alcohol was involved in this incident. If so, Molinares may then be charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter.
The Relevant Texas Law
Unlike many states, Texas does not use the terms involuntary manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter. Instead, Texas combines the two into one broad charge with enhanced penalties in some circumstances. In general, in Texas, manslaughter exists when a prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged (“Defendant”) recklessly caused the death of another person. Unlike first-degree murder, this crime does not require premeditation or deliberation beforehand.
Texas is the only state that recognizes intoxication manslaughter. This can be a vehicular type of manslaughter. Per Texas statute, intoxication manslaughter occurs when Defendant recklessly causes the death of another person while Defendant is intoxicated. If Defendant is convicted of this crime, it is treated as a felony in the second degree. Similarly, vehicular manslaughter exists when Defendant recklessly causes the death of another person while driving a vehicle or a vessel.
The Degrees of Penalties in Texas
In Texas, the penalties for Driving While Impaired (“DWI”) can be significant. If you are charged with your first DWI, you face a fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or jail time from 72 days to 180 days. You also lose your driver’s license for up to one year. If you are charged with a second DWI, on the other hand, you face a fine not to exceed $4,000 and/or jail time of 30 days to one year in jail. You also lose your driving privilege for up to two years. For a third DWI, you will face a fine not to exceed $10,000 and/or jail time between two and ten years.
Texas recognizes additional penalties for DWIs. For one, if you are charged with a DWI with a child in the vehicle, if convicted, this is a state felony. Additionally, as in the case above, if you are intoxicated and cause an accident, killing someone as a result of your DWI, the charge is a second-degree felony with a jail time of up to 20 years. A felony stays on your record and could significantly hinder your chances at future employment. For these reasons, it is imperative that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to best protect your interests.
Take Action and Hire an Attorney for Your Case
Again, if you are charged with a DWI related crime, it is important to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The Texas criminal defense lawyers at Wheeler Law Office are here for you. We have the experience needed to aggressively defend you. Our law office is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. We offer a FREE consultation and we are prepared to travel to you to discuss your legal options if, for example, you are currently in jail.