Protecting You And Your Family Is Important To Me

New Texas law raises the stakes for drunk driving

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Being charged with a DWI or DUI is certainly one of a number of serious consequences people could face if they’re arrested for drunk driving. The effects of such charges on a person’s life shouldn’t be minimized.

There could, however, be far worse consequences. If someone is killed by a driver accused of being under the influence, the driver could face as long as 20 years behind bars. Additionally, under a new law enacted last fall, drunk drivers in Texas who are found guilty of intoxication manslaughter could have to pay restitution in the form of financial support for any minor children left behind by a parent or legal guardian.

How is restitution determined?

If a driver is found guilty of intoxication manslaughter where the victim has one or more surviving minor children, the court will determine the amount of support they have to pay until the child turns 18 (or 19, if they’re still in high school). This amount is based on things like:

  • The financial, educational, medical and other needs of the child
  • The ability of their surviving parent or designated legal guardian to support them
  • The child’s lifestyle prior to losing their parent or guardian
  • The driver’s financial resources

Of course, if a driver is going to be incarcerated for years, they may not have the means to make any support payments until they’re released. That doesn’t get them off the hook. They have up to a year after their release from prison to begin making payments.

Further, under the law, they’re required to pay “all arrearages regardless of whether the restitution payments were scheduled to terminate while the defendant was confined….” That means they have to make up for what they would have paid had they not gone to prison.

Texas is just one state where this kind of law and others have been passed or is being considered by lawmakers as they try to deal with the problem of impaired driving. If you’re facing any kind of charge related to drunk and/or drugged driving, it’s smart to get legal guidance as soon as possible to help protect your rights and your future, especially because the consequences associated with conviction seem to escalate regularly.