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Understanding Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas

In Texas, lawmakers recognize a law, under homicide, for situations where a person is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or while drunk and cause another person’s death. This law, in Texas specifically, is known as intoxicated manslaughter. Though other states have a variation of homicide that applies to such cases, Texas is the first station to make intoxicated manslaughter an independent offense from homicide.

DWI & Intoxication Manslaughter Terms

In order to fully grasp what intoxicated manslaughter is, you have to know the terms that it is made up of.


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Texas Intoxication Manslaughter Law:

Intoxication & Voluntary Intoxication

Illegal drugs and alcohol are often the causes of intoxication, though it can also be as a result of prescription medications, or an intake of a combination of different substances. Individuals who are intoxicated or drunk lack the ability, both mentally and physically, to drive or operate any form of vehicle. It is important to note that you may be intoxicated even without feeling high of drunk. An example of this is if the blood’s level of alcohol is above the legal limit. Thus, even if you aren’t drunk, legally, you are intoxicated.

As you may have noticed, you may be intoxicated without even knowing it. An example of this is when an individual takes prescription medicine that makes them intoxicated. If an individual knowingly gets drunk or high, that’s voluntary intoxication. If the said individual drives while intoxicated and kills someone, he will be considered to have committed a DWI offense. This crime will be considered intoxicated manslaughter.

Drunk Driving in a Vehicle

Intoxicated manslaughter applies when an individual is intoxicated and drives a car or vehicle. Additionally, the law also applies when a person is intoxicated and operates a boat, flies a plane, or operates an amusement or carnival ride.

An example of this is when a person, in the state of Texas, assembles or operates a carnival park ride while intoxicated. If it results in someone’s death, then the person will have committed intoxicated manslaughter.

Death from intoxicated manslaughter

Intoxicated manslaughter is when a person who is intoxicated gets behind the wheel and causes an accident that results in the death of someone. The person killed in the accident can be the passenger in the driver’s vehicle, a pedestrian, or the occupant of another vehicle. Additionally, it is considered intoxicated manslaughter when a person dies from the injury caused by the accident or crash.

DWI Manslaughter Penalties

There are a myriad of penalties that can be imposed on someone if it can be proven that they committed intoxicated manslaughter. The penalties can differ, depending on the circumstances of the case.

DWI-Related Prison Terms

In Texas, intoxicated manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony, and carry a prison sentence between two and twenty years. Intoxicated manslaughter also has a mandatory minimum sentence, which is two years. This means that the person has to serve a minimum of two years before they are eligible for parole.


In addition to prison sentences, a convict of intoxicated manslaughter will pay significant amounts in fines. Texas has a limit of ten thousand dollars.

Community service

Intoxicated manslaughter also comes with a mandatory community service penalty. The convict must serve at least 240 hours of community service. However, the court may decide to impose up to eight hundred hours of community service. The community service must be served in addition to the prison sentence and the fines.

If you are a resident of Texas and have been charged with intoxicated manslaughter, it is important to look for an attorney that is experienced and well versed in Texas Law. Be it for legal advice or to fight the case. Regardless of the case, you need an attorney that has firsthand experience when dealing with such types of cases.