191.5 (a) Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code [DUI laws], and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.
PC 191.5 (a) is one of the most serious drunk driving offenses you can be charged with. It is a felony that can carry years in prison, and it implies that you knew you were putting lives at risk. However, it’s also a difficult charge for the prosecution to prove, and there are ways to fight it.
Understanding Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a legal term that means your behavior caused a death. It implies that you didn’t intend to kill a person (why is why it’s not murder), but that you should have known a person could die.
Vehicular manslaughter is manslaughter while driving a vehicle. Gross vehicular manslaughter means you acted with “gross negligence,” which basically means a total disregard for safety.
Defending against PC 191.5 (a)
For the prosecutor to convict your of PC 191.5 (a), they have to prove each step of their case. These steps include:
- You were guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, under any of California’s DUI laws;
- While driving under the influence you broke some other law that could lead to death (such as excessive speeding), or you acted lawfully in a way that might cause death (such as making legal turn without looking);
- You did so with “gross negligence” or a reckless disregard of safety; and
- That the negligent act in question is what directly caused someone’s death.
That may sound like a tough charge to beat, but if the prosecutor is unable to prove any of these four steps, you cannot be convicted. A good DUI lawyer can defend you. They’ll work to show that either you didn’t act with gross negligence, or that it wasn’t your negligent act that caused the death. For example, if the other person involved also broke a law or acted carelessly, it wasn’t your negligence that caused their death.
Penalties for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
PC 191.5 (a) is a felony, and carries anywhere from 4 to 10 years in state prison. If you have a prior PC 191.5 conviction, or two or more prior DUI convictions of any kind, the penalty is 15 years in prison.
Have you been charged with PC 191.5? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.