Mistakes are made every day. A bad decision can lead to a missed bus or even a car crash. As most of us know, the law prescribes penalties for many of these accidents. However, the legal consequences assigned to an act of negligence are usually less than those assigned to an intended act, such as murder -- even if the accident happened because of drunk driving.
Recently, a 27-year-old Houston, Texas, man admitted to driving while intoxicated. The man, while passing through a previously established crime scene, struck a police officer, who was questioning a witness at the time. The officer died at the scene. There is no question however that the man did not intend the officer's harm or death. The man was convicted of a negligent crime, not one that could be considered to be premeditated. However, the man faces a sentence usually reserved for those who intend to harm another.
The man stood trial because the prosecution pushed for a life sentence. In Texas, intoxication manslaughter is a second degree offense, which designates a punishment between two and 20 years in prison. However, intoxication manslaughter of a peace officer is a first degree offense with an accompanying sentence between five and 99 years.
While the result of the accident was a man's death, because the victim was a police officer, the penalties were greater. The man was sentenced to 55 years in prison and will not be eligible for parole until at least have of that time is served.
Source: Houston Chronicle, "Man gets 55 years in officer's DWI death," Brian Rogers, June 9, 2012