Fulton v. State

576 S.W.3d 905 (2019)

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Fulton v. State

Texas Court of Appeals
576 S.W.3d 905 (2019)

Facts

James Fulton (defendant) consumed significant amounts of beer in a single afternoon, including 44 ounces during an hour-and-a-half-long dinner. Shortly after leaving the dinner, while speeding down a familiar road, Fulton was distracted by a deer, failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway, crossed over the double yellow line, and struck Haile Beasley’s car head on, killing her instantly. Immediately before hitting Beasley, Fulton almost struck Kristen Woodard’s oncoming car, but Woodard was able to swerve out of the way. Fulton did not react to the near collision and did not attempt to brake prior to hitting Beasley. A field sobriety test conducted at the scene indicated that Fulton was impaired but not legally intoxicated. Fulton refused to submit to a blood or breath test. The State of Texas (Texas) charged Fulton with criminally negligent homicide. Texas conceded that Fulton was not legally intoxicated at the time of the accident, meaning that his blood alcohol content (BAC) was below 0.08; however, supported by expert testimony, Texas argued that Fulton was impaired to the extent that he was unable to safely drive or maintain focus. The jury convicted Fulton, finding that Fulton’s conduct was a gross deviation from the general societal standard of care. Fulton appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict and that driving while impaired but not intoxicated did not constitute criminal negligence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hoyle, J.)

Dissent (Neeley, J.)

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