The story of a Texas drunk driver allegedly streaming himself on Facebook Live must be another sign of our social-media times.
Maybe in this twenty-first century it's not so surprising that someone would record questionable conduct live on social media. A 2017 report alleged nearly fifty separate acts of violence transmitted across Facebook Live. In 2019, the world saw a New Zealand man use Facebook Live to livestream a massacre. We've also seen a mid-2020 report of a driver recorded on Facebook Live while fleeing police, right up to his gunshot death.
What makes this late 2020 Texas DWI story especially concerning is the allegation that the driver's actions resulted in multiple traffic deaths. The story reports that the video, occurring just minutes before the fatal crash, recorded the driver drinking beer, also passed among the vehicle's three passengers, one of whom streamed the event. The story reports that the driver allegedly said that he drives better when he drinks.
The story continues that moments later, the driver's sedan crashed into a pickup truck, killing the sedan's three passengers and injuring the pickup's driver. The story reports that prosecutors charged the allegedly intoxicated driver with three counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault, each a Texas felony DWI. The story further indicates that the charged driver faces up to eighty years behind bars.
Defending Complicated and Enhanced DWI Charges
Drinking, driving, and causing death can justify manslaughter charges. Texas Penal Code 49.08 criminalizes intoxication manslaughter driving a vehicle, while Texas Penal Code 19.04 defines manslaughter as recklessly causing death. Texas Penal Code 6.03(c) further defines recklessness as being “aware of but consciously disregard[ing] a substantial and unjustifiable risk” and “a gross deviation” from ordinary care. Drunk driving can qualify as such recklessness.
Unfortunately, those charged with DWI crimes sometimes complicate the defense with careless or irresponsible actions before and after the arrest. Video or audio recording implicating oneself in a potential DWI crime, as in the above event, can surely make for a more-difficult defense. Read here what to do before a DWI arrest and here what to do and not to do after a DWI arrest.
Yet a manslaughter charge is not a conviction. Texas law recognizes manslaughter defenses including that mental impairment contributed to the death-causing conduct. Just because someone dies in a motor-vehicle accident, doesn't mean that a vehicle driver must pay for it with a manslaughter conviction. Police make mistakes identifying vehicle operators, getting chemical tests confirming intoxication, and in other respects. Breath and blood tests can be grossly inaccurate. Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of a DWI crime, including intoxication manslaughter.
Retain Expert Representation
Learn here how nationally recognized Texas DWI attorney Doug Murphy helps clients beat unjust DWI charges, even in fatal-accident cases complicated by other circumstances like video or audio recording. Defendants charged with DWI crimes have substantial and enforceable legal rights, no matter how serious the results of the event. 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy is available now for your representation.
As a Board Certified DWI specialist and one of only two Texas lawyers holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification, Doug Murphy can aggressively defend clients whose DWI charge relates to a fatal accident, even when complicated by other circumstances. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 to discuss your case today. Trust Texas DWI attorney Doug Murphy with your defense.
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