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Drunk driving with children in vehicle leads to murder charge

A DWI conviction in Texas provides for progressively severe penalties depending on the existence of aggravating factors. Repeated prior convictions will exponentially increase the potential prison sentence. Extremely high blood alcohol readings will also call for increased penalties. When one's drunk driving results in an accident and property damage, this is another aggravating factor. When it results in someone's death, the accused may be charged with criminal homicide in addition to DWI.

In Texas, it is a felony to drive intoxicated with children under 15 in the vehicle. Police in Houston recently arrested a 26-year-old man and charged him with drunk driving with his children, ages 6, 5 and 1, in his pickup. The accused allegedly exited from the West Sam Houston Parkway and crashed into a car, sending the car through a brick sign. The driver of the car died in the accident.

The suspect then hit another car, which was severely damaged by the impact. The driver of that car was taken to the hospital for treatment and is expected to survive. The suspect is accused of then driving his pickup into a utility pole, causing two transformers to explode and ignite a fire.  Police say that because the accused was committing a felony when he struck the decedent's vehicle, they have charged him with murder.

The suspect made things even more difficult for himself by allegedly telling the police after the accident that he had been drinking and that he was traveling 90 mph when he exited the Parkway and hit the car. Defense counsel will examine the circumstances of those highly incriminating statements to determine whether they were voluntarily given and whether the police otherwise obtained the statements constitutionally. When the consequences of the alleged criminal acts are so severe, counsel must thoroughly investigate to determine whether any defenses are available to the drunk driving and murder charges under Texas law.

Source: abc13.com, "Father charged with murder in DWI crash with children in truck", Courtney Fischer, March 12, 2018

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