Typically when a drunk driving incident occurs, it is only the driver who is charged. However, prosecutors are treating a recent Texas death caused by drunk driving a bit differently. Along with the DUI and manslaughter charges faced by the driver, the shopkeeper who sold the alcohol could be held criminally responsible for the fatal crash.
The shopkeeper is accused of selling alcohol to a minor. This misdemeanor charge carries up to a year in jail as well as a $4,000 fine and temporary license suspension. Such charges could be faced by anyone selling alcohol to someone underage, but is particularly important here due to the fact the 17-year-old buyer allegedly drove a vehicle after consuming the alcohol. According to police, two teenage girls died after the driver hit a tree at a high speed.
This is just one in a series of charges that indicate a trend in criminal action against those who illegally serve alcohol to people who cause drunk driving accidents. Underage drinking seems to be a particular focus, especially if the minors who are served go on to cause a fatal accident. Businesses and the individuals who serve alcohol illegally can both face legal action in these cases, both criminally and in civil courts.
One of the reasons prosecutors may be doubling down on misdemeanors that may contribute to a DUI is the relatively high number of drunk driving cases in the state. Texas had 3,776 fatal accidents where alcohol played a role in 2016. Those who are charged for a DUI or any related crime should work with a Texas defense attorney to understand legal options.