controlled substance, drug, dangerous drug, or other substance, is no defense. For example, in Texas, toprove intoxication manslaughter, it is not necessary to prove the person was negligent in causing the death of another, nor that they unlawfully used the substance that intoxicated them, but only that they wereintoxicated, and operated a motor vehicle, and someone died as a result.
Types of Intoxication Manslaughter
In Texas, intoxication manslaughter does not only apply to automobile drivers. Individuals may be chargedwith this crime under any of the following circumstances:
If they are operating a car, truck, motorcycle, or any other type of motorized vehicle in a public place
If they are operating a boat, airplane, or amusement park ride
If they assemble an amusement park rideIf the alleged offender has done any of these things while intoxicated, and someone was killed by the vehiclethey were operating or had assembled, they can be convicted of intoxication manslaughter. There is norequirement that the prosecutor prove negligence, that their intoxication was the direct cause of the crash, orthat they were behaving unlawfully by using the substance that caused their intoxication.
Defenses For Intoxication Manslaughter
Intoxication manslaughter cases should be attacked on two fronts if the case is going to trial. Notwithstandingwhether a person is or is not intoxicated, a good lawyer would examine the Texas Peace Officer collision reportwhich was completed as part of the investigation. Just because a driver may be intoxicated does not meanthat he should be held criminally liable for the death of another.There have been cases where the deceased driver was as much at fault if not more at fault than the accused.Examples could include the deceased having run a red light, the deceased having operated his motor vehicleat night without lights, the deceased also being intoxicated, the deceased merging improperly into traffic, andthe list goes on. A lawyer familiar with crash reconstruction and who has worked with reconstruction expertsshould be able to present this defense if it is available. The issue is one of causation and is set forth in Tex.
Penal Code Section 6.04. In a nutshell, what 6.04 states is that if an accused’s conduct is insufficient in itself
to cause the result, and the conduct of another contributed to the result and the contributing cause wassufficient to cause the result, the accused cannot be held liable.
A good accident reconstruction expert’s report may convince a prosecutor to agree to probation if causation is
questionable. That in itself may be worth the investment in hiring both a reconstruction expert and a lawyerwho knows how to present such findings.The second line of defense is whether a person is intoxicated. Scientific evidence can be compelling for a jury.However, the State is allowed to rely upon opinion evidence based upon observations such as lack of coordination, blood shot eyes, smell of intoxicants on breath, slurred speech etc. Some of these symptomcould be explained by lack of sleep, allergies, injury, but not all.