Dedicated Texas Criminal Defender

Texas has increased its penalties for intoxication manslaughter

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Criminal defense

A number of state legislatures are considering increasing potential criminal consequences for those who drive while under the influence. One such shift became the law in Texas last year.

Certainly, if the worst-case scenario occurred and someone was killed, the drunk or drugged driver could already face years in prison and other penalties. Now, if the parent or legal guardian of a minor child is killed, the impaired driver, if convicted of intoxication manslaughter, will be held responsible for helping financially support that child until they reach adulthood.

How is restitution determined?

Specifically, under the law, the convicted driver will be ordered to pay restitution to the child’s surviving parent (if there is one) or legal guardian until the child turns 18 or, in some circumstances, 19. Judges will consider factors like:

  • The financial resources of those caring for the child
  • The child’s physical, emotional, educational and other needs
  • The standard of living the child had prior to their parent’s death
  • The defendant’s financial resources

A child who has lost a parent in a car crash may need extensive treatment. If they were in the crash, they may have their own medical issues. They may also need mental health treatment to deal with the loss of a parent. These things can all be considered in determining the amount to be paid.

Going to prison doesn’t relieve someone of the restitution requirement

A person convicted of intoxication manslaughter can face up to two decades behind bars. If they’re serving time, they generally can’t begin making restitution payments immediately. However, that doesn’t let them off the hook. The law states that they must “pay all arrearages regardless of whether the restitution payments were scheduled to terminate while the defendant was confined or imprisoned in the correctional facility.”

The law allows up to a year to begin making payments after serving their incarceration-related sentence. That gives people time to get a job. However, this is still going to be a significant financial burden that could follow them for years.

If you or a loved one is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge, it’s critical to get experienced legal guidance as soon as possible. This can help defendants protect their rights and work toward the best possible resolution for their case.