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Texas’ intoxication manslaughter penalties are higher than ever

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

If someone is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence and eventually charged with DUI, they likely don’t consider themselves lucky. For too many people, their first arrest is after they’ve caused a crash that injured or killed someone. Some of these victims leave behind children.

Increasingly, lawmakers across the country, including those in Texas, are strengthening the laws around fatal drunk and drugged driving crashes to include a requirement to compensate those children and their caregivers. Last September, Texas added such a requirement for those convicted of intoxication manslaughter if a parent or legal guardian of a minor is killed. Note that a conviction on this charge can also result in up to 20 years behind bars.

More about this compensation

A judge considers a number of factors when determining how much compensation (also called “restitution”) a defendant has to pay. This includes things like the child’s financial, emotional and educational needs, the financial circumstances of their surviving family and their lifestyle prior to losing their parent(s) or guardian.

The defendant’s ability to pay is also considered. If they’re going to be serving time in prison, that could leave them unable to pay anything for a time. That doesn’t mean they’re off the hook. Under the law, they’re required to begin paying the designated amount (as well as anything they owed while incarcerated) within a year after release. That’s the case even if the child is no longer a minor by that time and “the restitution payments were scheduled to terminate while the defendant was confined….”

If you or a loved one is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge, it’s critical to have experienced legal guidance from the beginning. The potential consequences of a conviction are higher than ever.