Aggressive Criminal

You could end up supporting a child after driving drunk in Texas

On Behalf of | Criminal Defense |

One of the risks a person assumes when they get behind the wheel after having a few drinks or using drugs is that they’ll cause a crash that seriously injures or kills others – or themselves. The typical criminal charge in Texas for causing a fatal crash while under the influence is intoxication manslaughter.

While most people associate the word “intoxication” with alcohol, under Texas law, it also refers to drugs and other substances. Further, the law applies not just to operating a motor vehicle, but also watercraft and amusement rides.

This year, Texas changed the law to require “mandatory restitution” by anyone convicted of intoxication manslaughter to cover the support of any minor children whose parents or legal guardians are killed as a result of their actions.

How is the amount of restitution determined?

In sentencing, a judge will weigh multiple factors, including:

  • The emotional, physical and educational needs of the child
  • The ability of a surviving parent or designated guardian(s) to cover those needs
  • The standard of living the child had before their parent or guardian was killed
  • The financial resources of the person convicted of the offense

This restitution is required to continue until the child reaches 18 or graduates from high school (whichever occurs later). 

The restitution is required even if the child becomes an adult during your incarceration

Of course, a person is likely to face incarceration after conviction. What if they can’t afford to pay the restitution while they’re behind bars? If that’s the case, they have up to a year after release to begin making payments. That includes “any arrearage that exists on the date of the defendant’s release…regardless of whether the restitution payments were scheduled to terminate while the defendant was confined or imprisoned in the correctional facility.”

While any impaired driving offense is serious, when someone is injured or killed, the stakes become far higher. With this new law, that’s truer than ever.  That’s why it’s crucial to get experienced legal guidance as soon as possible.