Can You Defend Against DWI Manslaughter Charges?

If you got into a drunk driving crash that killed someone, you should expect to face DWI manslaughter charges. This is one of the toughest laws in Texas, with harsher penalties than other DWI defendants will face. Although your world might be reeling, know that there are strong defenses we can raise on your behalf.

At Tad Nelson & Associates, we bring the same vigorous defense to those charged with DWI manslaughter as we do other drunk driving offenses. The fact is that there are legitimate defenses we can raise to these charges. Let’s look at a few.

You Weren’t Intoxicated

The state must prove you were intoxicated when you got into the crash. That’s a lot harder to do than many people realize. For one thing, you might not have taken a chemical test, so there’s no “number” the prosecutor can use against you. Even if you did blow a high number, this might not accurately reflect your BAC at the time you hit the victim. It’s possible you drank some more alcohol after the accident and this is what the breathalyzer is showing.

The prosecutor might use different types of evidence to establish you were drunk, such as witnesses who saw you drinking before getting into the car. But the fact you got into a wreck isn’t, by itself, proof of intoxication.

You Weren’t Responsible for the Crash

Sometimes, the victim is to blame for getting hit even if you were admittedly intoxicated. For example, someone might pull out directly in front of you, or they could have been jaywalking when they jumped into traffic. The fact that you were drunk doesn’t matter if even a sober person wouldn’t be able to avoid the collision.

You Weren’t Responsible for the Death

Maybe you caused a crash while intoxicated. However, the death could result from a different cause. Imagine if the victim survives the initial crash and is discharged from the hospital. Weeks go by, during which he doesn’t take medication as prescribed by a doctor. If he dies later of a heart attack, we can argue you aren’t responsible.

You Weren’t Driving

It might take the police a half hour to get to the scene of a crash. If so, then they might not know who was behind the wheel. Remember, the prosecutor must prove you were driving beyond a reasonable doubt. They might not have the evidence.

You Weren’t Driving in Public

The statute (Penal Code §49.08) requires that you operate a motor vehicle “in public” to face charges. You might have hit someone on private land or in a driveway. Of course, you can still be charged with a crime under these circumstances. But it’s harder to convict for DWI manslaughter.

Contact Our Houston DWI Lawyer

Attorney Tad Nelson is an experienced criminal defense lawyer with decades of experience. He has tackled all sorts of DWI cases, and always seeks the best outcome for his clients. If you were arrested for DWI manslaughter, give our firm a call. We can review the charges against you and offer our advice about the best way to proceed.