Safely navigating modern America's many high-speed highways can be a challenge given factors like thick fog, darkness, heavy rain, high winds, construction detours, and congested traffic. Overpasses, underpasses, tunnels, bridges, on-and-off ramps, loops, and turnabouts, and a myriad of signs and signals to do this or that, further complicate driving. The large number of accidents year to year proves driving's naturally high risk.
A vehicle operator's constantly changing mental, physical, and emotional condition, including common disabilities, diseases, stresses, and upsets, multiply accident risks. Drivers also vary in their profiles, affecting driving skills and experience. We've all had the disconcerting experience of noticing drivers who can barely see over the driver's wheel or who look like they're still in elementary school, hurtling down the freeway. Hence the bright warning signs on driver's ed vehicles.
Competent drivers can and do make fundamental errors. Lawyers practicing in the personal-injury field see it all the time: great people with great jobs and families make one momentary mistake on the highway, causing a horrific accident. While the public may not see it that way, the justice system's purpose is not merely to compensate or console the victim but also to redeem the momentary wrongdoer, to lift all burdens.
No one intends to get on the freeway going the wrong way. But that's what happened in a November 2020 accident occurring on the Southwest Freeway in Fort Bend County, one of the many Texas counties in which Board Certified DWI specialist and 2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy defends clients on DWI and related charges. According to a media report, the thirty-five-year-old driver of a pickup truck entered the freeway by an exit ramp, leading to a head-on crash that killed the other vehicle's twenty-year-old driver.
When Intoxicated Driving Causes Death
The media report on the wrong-way Southwest Freeway accident indicates that authorities charged the pickup's driver with intoxication manslaughter. See Texas DWI fatality figures here. The report gives no details as to the alleged intoxication. Under Texas Penal Code 49.08, an intoxication manslaughter offense requires proof that the defendant operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing death. Texas Penal Code 19.04 defines manslaughter as “recklessly caus[ing] the death of an individual,” and Texas Penal Code 6.03(c) defines recklessness as being “aware of but consciously disregard[ing] a substantial and unjustifiable risk” and “a gross deviation” from an ordinary person's care.
The reported intoxication charge, though, doesn't mean it's true. Presumably, investigating officers observed something to suggest alcohol involvement supporting the charge, but police do make mistakes, even with the operator's breath or blood testing. Learn more about DWI tests here. Prosecutors must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Learn more here about how nationally recognized DWI attorney Doug Murphy helps clients beat unsupported Texas DWI charges.
The reported wrong-way accident could still have constituted vehicular manslaughter under Texas Penal Code 19.04, a second-degree felony punishable with up to ten years of imprisonment, or criminally negligent homicide under Texas Penal Code 19.05, a state-jail felony punishable by up to two years of imprisonment. But even then, Texas law recognizes several defenses to both crimes, including that some form of mental impairment may have contributed to the death-causing event.
Get the Best Representation
In short, a brief report like the one above of a wrong-way accident causing death raises more questions than it answers about the alleged criminal responsibility of the driver involved. Learn more here about your rights in defense of a DWI or related charge.
2021 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year Doug Murphy can help. As a Board Certified DWI specialist and one of only two Texas lawyers holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification, Doug Murphy has the experience and skill to make an aggressive DWI defense even in bad-looking motor-vehicle accidents. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 to discuss your case today. You need the best representation, especially if your case involves a wrong-way crash or other frightening circumstance. Trust leading Texas DWI attorney Doug Murphy with your DWI defense.