Some people drive intoxicated, never getting caught. In other cases, police observe erratic driving or moving violations, stopping and detecting the drunk driver, resulting in a DWI charge. Other drunk drivers, driving alone, cause single-vehicle accidents, leading to investigation, detection, and DWI charge.
The drunk driver's worst-case scenario, though, is to crash their vehicle while carrying multiple other occupants, crash into another vehicle, or run into a pedestrian crowd, seriously injuring or even killing multiple persons. In those cases of multiple deaths or serious injuries, the underlying DWI charge is the drunk driver's least worry. The drunk driver faces far more-serious DWI-related charges.
A Recent Unfortunate Example
A March 2021 vehicle crash in Dallas's inner-ring Irving suburb supplies the latest calamitous example. The story reports the death of two women, the serious injury of a man, and the death of a dog, when an allegedly intoxicated, wrong-way driver ran her vehicle head-on into another vehicle on State Highway 161. The injured man, age 21, was that other vehicle's operator while the women, ages 19 and 21, and the dog, were its passengers.
The accident also hospitalized the allegedly intoxicated driver, just 23 years old, with serious injuries. She was her vehicle's sole occupant. The report gives no other account of the driver's activities leading up to the accident.
The Likely DWI-Related Charges
Prosecutors reviewing the above accident had not charged the driver by the same-day time of the story. But the story reports the investigating police saying that the driver would face two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault, indeed making any underlying DWI charge the driver's least worry. Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony, under Texas Penal Code § 19.04, usually carrying a sentence of between two and twenty years with a fine up to $10,000. Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony, under Texas Penal Code § 19.07, usually carrying a penalty of between two and ten years with a fine up to $10,000.
The Potential Impact of Multiple DWI-Related Convictions
The driver in the above case, though likely to face the most-serious DWI-related charges, nonetheless deserves a defense. She may not be guilty of the crimes charged. But when a court convicts a defendant of multiple charges, the question arises whether the multiple convictions will mean a much longer sentence. The court may impose a sentence anywhere between the statutory minimum and maximum. But do two convictions for intoxication manslaughter double the probable prison term?
Ordinarily, Texas Penal Code § 3.03 provides that two sentences for a conviction arising out of the same criminal episode run concurrently, meaning together, in which case two convictions would not necessarily double the prison term. But Texas Penal Code § 3.03(b) provides an exception for intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter, allowing the judge to decide whether sentences should run concurrently or instead consecutively, in effect doubling the prison term.
Retain Premier Representation
High stakes warrant premier representation. Defendants charged with multiple intoxication assaults or intoxication manslaughters may, with an aggressive defense, defeat the charges. But if not, then sentencing becomes the critical point for premier advocacy. Board Certified DWI Specialist Doug Murphy knows not only how to defend and defeat DWI-related charges but also how to skillfully advocate for lenient sentences. Attorney Doug Murphy's national reputation, his recognition as the 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year, and that he is one of only two Texas lawyers holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification prove his trustworthiness to defend the most-serious DWI-related charges. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 to discuss your case today.