Drunk driving again made headlines in Dallas this month when a police officer was killed by an allegedly intoxicated driver.
The Dallas Police Department said an officer who was working an accident scene was killed in the early hours on Feb. 13. In a tweet, Chief Eddie Garcia said a police officer was “struck and killed by a DWI driver.”
The police department said the officer was standing outside his marked patrol vehicle with emergency lights flashing on the northbound lanes of North Central Expressway at Walnut Hill around 1.45 a.m. when a Kia Forte traveling at high speed crashed into him. The officer was transported to Baylor Hospital where he later died of his injuries.
Fox News reported the 32-year-old driver did not sustain any injuries and was awaiting charges from the police. Officers also questioned a female passenger in the Kia.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the whole city mourned the loss of one of its police officers, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“He died far too young, but the measure of a life is not longevity, but what someone does with the time they have,” Johnson said. “This officer dedicated his time to serving our great city in an inherently dangerous job.”
Tragically, Texas has one of the highest rates of deaths caused by intoxicated drivers in the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1,000 people died in crashes in which at least one party was drunk in 2017.
Drunk driving is taken extremely seriously in Texas, particularly when it causes death or a serious injury. Texas Department of Transportation points out drivers are legally intoxicated behind the wheel when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.08%. However, drivers can be charged with DWI if any level of drugs or alcohol can be shown to impair their driving. The same rules apply to piloting a boat or an airplane.
Even for a first offense, DWI in Texas carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail on conviction with three mandatory days, a fine of up to $2,000, and the loss of a driving license for up to a year. Drivers who commit a second offense face at least a month behind bars and up to a year on conviction, a fine of up to $4,000, and the loss of their driving privileges for up to two years, TxDOT states. The decision on whether or not to suspend driving privileges is made by an Administrative Law Court at a separate hearing. Unlike most attorneys, we typically include in our fee the representation of our clients before the Administrative Law Court.
Texas has an offense called intoxication manslaughter. This includes causing death in a traffic accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, it extends to the operation of a boat, a plane, or even an amusement ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if the operator caused a fatal accident. The Texas Penal Code states the suspect is “intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.”
Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and two to 20 years in prison. Texas is unusual in having a specific offense of intoxication manslaughter. Most other states use terms such as DUI manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter.
Read more about intoxication manslaughter on our website or call our Dallas defense team at (214) 720-9552.