What Happens When a Teen Is Charged With Intoxication Manslaughter After a Fatal Car Crash?

What Happens When a Teen Is Charged With Intoxication Manslaughter After a Fatal Car Crash?

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

This past March, a 17-year-old driver killed a family of six in an intoxicated driving accident. The teen attempted to pass in a no-passing zone and went directly into the family vehicle. North Texas rarely sees an incident so devastatingly tragic. However, it also raises the question of how the law will handle this situation. What happens when a teen commits intoxication manslaughter? Both teens and intoxication tend to get special treatment in criminal charges and the consequences that come from these crimes. Opinions are split on whether this irresponsible teenager should spend the rest of their life in prison paying for those six lost lives. Many discuss the possibility of light sentencing due to the age and intoxication elements of the case.

Police line at a crime scene with unrecognizable officers in the background.

What Happened in North Texas?

If you haven’t read the full story in the news, let’s start with the details of the case.

17-year-old Luke Resecker was driving intoxicated with another teen in a Chevy Silverado down US Highway 67 in North Texas. This happened just South of Cleburne in Johnson County.

The teen changed lanes in a no-passing zone and drove into oncoming traffic. That oncoming traffic was a Honda Odyssey carrying a 3-generation family, killing six of seven passengers inside the car – 2 children and 4 adults.

Resecker took his teen passenger and one adult passenger from the Odessey to the hospital in critical condition.

The Court Proceedings So Far

They charged the teen driver with 6 counts of intoxication manslaughter, 2 counts of intoxication assault, and possession of a controlled substance. 

His bond was set at $50,000 with monitored home confinement. He is not medically fit to be booked into Johnson County Jail.

Lawyer signing in legal papers.

What Do These Charges Mean?

If you’re not familiar with intoxication charges, the combination of intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault are not clear indications of what lies ahead for this teen. Let’s look closely at what Texas Law indicates regarding these charges.

Intoxication Manslaughter – 2nd Degree Felony

Resecker faces 6 counts of intoxication and manslaughter for the 6 deaths in the Honda Odyssey.

Intoxication Manslaughter is a second-degree felony. It occurs when deaths are caused by the intoxicated piloting of a vehicle, including cars, trucks, aircraft, and watercraft.

Manslaughter is a special designation that typically means that the death was not intentional. This separates it from homicide and murder, which require intent and desire to kill.

A second-degree felony means a minimum of 2 years in jail, and the possibility of up to 20 years in jail, in addition to fines of up to $10,000. For Resecker, all six counts may stack for a minimum of 12 years in jail and a maximum of more than he could serve in a lifetime.

The penalties may be more intense, upgrading the felony level and consequences if the victim was an emergency response worker. 

Intoxication Assault – 3rd Degree Felony

They charged Resecker with 2 counts of intoxication assault for the injuries of his passenger and the one survivor in the Honda Odyssey.

Intoxication Assault is a third-degree felony. It occurs when the intoxicated operation of any vehicle causes serious bodily injuries. This includes aircraft, watercraft, and even intoxicated operation of carnival rides.

The penalties for a third-degree felony include a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 10 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

One fact that is not clearly stated in the news articles is that Resecker was not drunk. He was high. In addition to intoxication manslaughter and assault, the third charge against the intoxicated teen was possession of a controlled substance, marijuana.

Possession of marijuana in Texas ranges from a Class B misdemeanor to a second-degree felony. It depends on the quantity and concentration. It has not been made clear just how much marijuana Resecker was transporting in the Silverado at the time of the accident, or the details on their test results regarding the legal degree of THC intoxication. However, marijuana is still a controlled substance in Texas and the consequences can be severe.

Man behind bars.

What Will Happen to the Teen Who Committed Intoxication Manslaughter?

Many people are debating what will become of Luke Resecker. Some believe that a teen so young should be able to complete an intensive rehab program and get a second chance at life. Others believe that 17 is old enough to take responsibility and that Resecker should spend the rest of his life in prison.

They often let go of teens with lighter sentencing rather than extensive jail time. This includes treatment, rehabilitation, and lifestyle limitations. However, they often tried 17-year-olds as adults in Texas, especially when the consequences of their actions are this dire.

It’s a complicated situation. The one thing we do know is that there is no reversing the tragedy of that accident. Luke Resecker will never be the same.

Defense for Teens in Legal Trouble

Teenagers get into trouble, it is inherent to the age group. We were all teens at one point and most of us can thank our lucky stars that a bout of irresponsible behavior did not result in a fatal car accident.

However, if you or a teenager in your life is now on the wrong side of the law, there may still be hope for a future after this moment. With a strong legal defense, teens have the best chance of case dismissal or light sentencing allowing them to build a life after one terrifying moment. Whether your teen has been wrongly accused or is learning a life lesson, they will never forget, the attorneys of Starr Law are here to help them get through this difficult time and navigate the legal process.

Contact us for an initial consultation to discuss a case you or someone you know has been involved in.

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