This week, on March 31, 2015, a driver was arrested for intoxication manslaughter after his vehicle crashed into a local food mart, killing 1 and injuring 5 others. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has been covering the story here. Certainly, there is still a lot of investigation left to do in this case, but one thing is certain: the Tarrant County DA’s office will look to file criminal charges and there will likely be personal injury civil suits that arise out of the incident. Here is a quick look at some of the criminal and personal injury litigation that can arise out of DWI intoxication manslaughter case like this.
What criminal charges could arise out of a situation like this?
- First, he could be charged with Intoxication Manslaughter, a 2nd Degree Felony, which carries a range of punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine if the State can prove the he was operating his vehicle while intoxicated and due to that intoxication, caused the death of another by accident or mistake.
- Second, he could be charged with Intoxication Assault, a 2rd Degree Felony, which carries a range of punishment of 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, if the State can prove that any of the 5 injured suffered “serious bodily injuries.” For any charge of Intoxication Manslaughter or Assault, the State can attempt to “stack” sentences under Section 3.03 of the Texas Penal Code.
- Third, if the State cannot prove that intoxication caused the death or the injuries, then he could be charged with DWI, which is a Class B misdemeanor, with a range of punishment of 3-180 days and up to a $2,000 fine (it’s a Class A if the alcohol concentration is above 0.08; there is no enhancement for drugs).
- Fourth, he could be charged with Evading Arrest in a Vehicle, which is a 3rd Degree Felony and carries a range of punishment of 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
What personal injury litigation could arise out of drunk driving accident situation like this?
- The victims of the accident could file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle and against the insurance company seeking full compensation for their loss (death, injuries, medical expenses, etc.)
- The victims of the accident could also file a personal injury lawsuit against other potential parties to the suit, depending on how the facts play out (Dram shop lawsuit? Was the driver driving a company vehicle? Was the driver acting in a work capacity during the incident? Was he being supervised? Was there anybody involved that could also be held responsible for the injuries).
Attorney Bryan Hoeller is a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney and personal injury attorney who handles cases in criminal defense, DWI defense, and personal injury litigation. For help with a case, call 877-208-3382.