What is intoxication manslaughter and the potential punishment?

Intoxication manslaughter is when you cause the death of another person by accident or mistake, either while committing the act of BWI or FWI or while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in a public place (DWI), and by reason of your intoxication. It is the highest-degree intoxication-related offense and occasionally may escalate to a felony murder charge.

Intoxication manslaughter is Felony of the Second Degree

An intoxication manslaughter offense under this section is a felony of the second degree, which can result in a fine up to $10,000 and 2 years to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and a driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to 2 years. Also upon conviction, there is an annual $1,000-$2,000 surcharge fee for a period of 3 years in order to retain your driver’s license. A felony conviction also disqualifies the person from voting and possessing a firearm.

Where probation is granted, there is still a requirement of a 120-day jail sentence. If the vehicle was driven in a way that made it a “deadly weapon,” then there is an additional penalty that prohibits good time credit in prison to be considered for early release until half of the sentence has been satisfied. A deadly weapon finding may also limit the circumstances in which a person may receive probation.

Ignition Interlock Requirement

As a condition of bond, the court will require you to install a vehicle ignition interlock device on your car, and you will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock device. This interlock device determines the presence of alcohol in your breath. If the device detects a certain level of alcohol, the vehicle is temporarily disabled. Additionally, the court will order an accused to abstain from alcohol use and use of controlled substances without a prescription. The court may enforce this by ordering random drug testing. In some circumstances, the court may order an accused not to operate a motor vehicle while the case is pending.