Under the Texas Penal Code a charge of intoxication manslaughter can be brought if a person:
- operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and
- is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.
The crime was graphically illustrated in a case in the San Antonio area in which a woman has been charged with intoxication manslaughter after allegedly causing a fatal wrong-way wreck on Texas 151.
Mysanantonio reported Shauna Ripley, 29, was driving west in the eastbound lanes of Texas 151 in a minivan on October 26, 2012 when she hit a compact car near the Callaghan Road exit, according to police.
She smashed into a car driven by Jorge Badillo Jr., 31, who died about an hour after the crash at University Hospital, where both drivers were taken, according to police reports.
Police said they are not sure where Ripley entered the highway. She was charged three days later and bail was set at $30,000.
Although these kinds of crashes may seem rare, they occur all too commonly in Bexar County, reported Mysanantonio.
Bexar County has had “more wrong-way crashes on major highways than almost every other densely populated county in Texas, according to a San Antonio Express-News analysis of records from 2007 to 2011. At least 136 wrong-way wrecks killed nearly 30 people and injured 138,” the site stated.
Not all of these accidents will have led to intoxication manslaughter charges, although wrong way crashes can often prove deadly and consumption of alcohol or drugs is a major cause of drivers traveling in the wrong direction.
In June 2012 we noted how five family members in one car died when their father crashed the vehicle into a bulldozer as he drove home from a Father’s Day party at Medina Lake in San Antonio. Larry William Demers, 35, was charged with intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault.
Intoxicated manslaughter means drunk driving resulting in a death. It is a second degree felony in Texas carrying a potential prison term of 2-20 years.
In cases of intoxicated manslaughter, you are required by law to install an ignition interlock device on your car. You are banned from driving any vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock device.