Ask a Top Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing charges for a DUI resulting in death can be life-changing.
Regardless of the circumstances, it’s advised to consult an attorney immediately. A top criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights in a court of law. Without leading legal representation, you risk facing years or even life in prison.
Louis J. Goodman has helped clients involved in a range of DUI-related incidents. Whether a negligent homicide or a DUI murder, your charge demands the skills of a lawyer experienced in severe felony cases.
Are you or someone you know involved in a DUI accident where the victim died? Are you charged with a DUI causing death? Learn what to expect and how a top attorney can fight these severe DUI-related offenses.
What Is a DUI Resulting in Death?
When it comes to negligent driving offenses, there are simple negligence charges, drunk driving offenses, and DUI-related killings. Any person who is driving drunk and causes a DUI death may face severe penalties and years in prison.
After a DUI-related killing, the prosecutor can charge you with various offenses, such as felony DUI with injury, Great Bodily Injury, and other Vehicular Manslaughter charges, including a potential second-degree murder.
When you face murder charges and a second-degree felony, consult a criminal defense attorney to discuss your defense. The circumstances of your case, and taking steps toward alcohol rehabilitation, may all impact how or if you are convicted.
Types of Vehicular Homicide While Driving Drunk
In California, vehicular homicide does not have a specific legal definition. The term, however, may apply broadly to various vehicular manslaughter and murder charges. Generally, vehicular manslaughter is a serious criminal offense that occurs when someone causes the death of another person while operating a vehicle.
Vehicular manslaughter is explained in California Penal Code section 192(c)(1) as the illegal killing of someone while operating a vehicle with ordinary negligence. There are various categories of these charges in DUI-related killings.
Here are the main ones:
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
This charge for driving under the influence is explained under California Penal Code section 191.5 as the killing of a person while operating a vehicle with gross negligence and influenced by drugs or alcohol. In proving gross vehicular manslaughter, the prosecutor must show a higher level of negligence involving a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
Grossly negligent DUI charges may impose more stringent penalties than DUI charges with a lower level of negligent homicide. You can get up to 10 years in prison if convicted of gross negligence DUI cases.
Penal Code Section 191.5 provides for both (a) and (b) offenses. These DUI statutes relate to the level of negligence under California state laws.
Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
Under Penal Code 191.5(a), regular vehicular manslaughter applies when a person kills another person while operating the vehicle negligently and unrelated to drugs or alcohol. In some cases, regular vehicular manslaughter may refer to a deadly DUI offense with low-level negligence.
So-called vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is an official charge brought when a person causes the death of another person while driving with ordinary negligence and influenced by drugs or alcohol.
Serious Penalties and Prison Time May Vary Based on Negligence
This negligence level means that the person failed to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances. This DUI manslaughter charge is also a felony offense carrying up to four years of prison time.
The other law under Penal Code 191.5(b) provides for a vehicular homicide charge while intoxicated, where the driver caused the death of another person while driving in violation of traffic laws or while fleeing from a law enforcement officer.
There are various negligent vehicular manslaughter charges. You may also be convicted of a “DUI murder” if you drove drunk with severe conscious disregard and caused someone’s death.
DUI Murder (Penal Code 187)
DUI murder, also known as “Watson Murder” in California, is a charge against a driver who causes a fatal accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with prior DUI convictions or wet reckless charges. A “wet reckless” charge refers to reckless driving involving alcohol but with a lower blood alcohol content (BAC) than the legal limit for a DUI.
Understanding Malice Aforethought in DUI Murder Charges
Under Penal Code 187, these murder charges constitute the unlawful killing of someone with malice aforethought. In the case of a DUI murder charge, malice aforethought implies the driver knew that driving while influenced could result in death or serious injury to another person. If convicted, you could get 15 years to life in state prison.
This DUI charge stems from a DUI death caused by intoxication and a severe conscious disregard for human life. The level of intent must be demonstrably high for this criminal charge to stick. A top attorney can help you to form a legal defense against serious charges such as malice aforethought.
Civil Lawsuits and Personal Injury Damages
A typical DUI is either a misdemeanor or a low-level felony. A DUI vehicular homicide, however, is the most serious DUI charge type. Not only do you face jail time, loss of your driver’s license, and other penalties, but you may also face a wrongful death civil lawsuit.
Whether under Florida Law or California law, personal injury claims force you to compensate for the victim’s injuries. In the case of lethal DUIs, these injuries pertain to the family.
You may have to pay for non-economic damages relating to pain and suffering and economic damages relating to the loss of income, medical expenses, and funeral costs. A civil wrongful-death lawsuit can be costly, so consult a leading lawyer like Louis J. Goodman immediately if you face vehicular homicide charges.
How a California DUI Defense Attorney Can Help
If you are facing a prison sentence, loss of license, substantial fines, community service, or mandated rehabilitation for deadly DUI offenses, you can challenge the prosecutor.
A defense attorney can find gaps in the prosecutor’s case: for example, you may also be able to challenge blood alcohol content (BAC) readings or demonstrate that the accident was not your fault. In some cases, the purported victim may have caused the accident. In other cases, your vehicle could have malfunctioned due to a defect.
Do you face gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated? A second-degree murder charge? Need client-focused, aggressive legal support you can trust?
Consult an Avvo 10.0 Top Attorney and receive the representation you deserve. A better future awaits.