Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas

Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas

Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman, Josh Brent, returned to his team this season after serving his six-month sentence for intoxication manslaughter. In 2012, Brent crashed his Mercedes-Benz after a night of drinking killing a teammate who was in the car.

What is Intoxication Manslaughter

Intoxication manslaughter is when someone who is “intoxicated” “operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride” and “by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake”. It is defined in Texas Penal Code chapter 49.08.

Intoxication manslaughter cases are highly sensitive and require an experienced lawyer. The details in the case can be tricky and require careful examination. For example, let’s look at a case in Austin. Samuel Gee, is being prosecuted for intoxication manslaughter despite blowing below the legal limit on a breath or “breathalyzer” test.

Test Accuracy

The state often attempts to prove these cases with blood tests and sometimes breath or field sobriety tests. The accuracy of these tests can be highly unreliable. It is extremely important proper procedures are used in obtaining and administering these tests. Often times, police, lab personnel and investigators fail to follow proper procedure. Failure to properly handle and obtain evidence by the state can result in evidence being inadmissible because, among other things it is wrong.

A diligent lawyer can access underlying documentation from police vehicles and laboratories in order to identify errors which could result in problems with evidence. Make sure you have a lawyer willing to take the time to thoroughly investigate your case and who has the trial skills to use what is found.

Source: USA TODAY, “Former Cowboy Josh Brent found guilty of intoxication manslaughter” Staff and wire reports, January 22, 2014
Contributing: WFAA-ABC in Dallas, the Associated Press

Source:, “Despite legal breath test, man charged with intoxication manslaughter” Chris Sadeghi, January 16, 2015