Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated means you did something reckless that took a life, while driving under the influence.
If your DUI involves a death, you could be charged under several different laws. The most common one is vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which we will refer to here as “ordinary” vehicular manslaughter DUI. But in some cases you could instead face “gross” vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, a more serious charge.
There are two important differences between ordinary vehicular manslaughter and gross vehicular manslaughter:
- Gross vehicular manslaughter can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony DUI charges carry substantial penalties that can follow you for years.
- Gross vehicular manslaughter rests on the idea of “gross negligence,” or doing something so reckless that any normal person would know it’s potentially deadly.
The difference is easier to understand with an example. If your DUI accident was caused while texting, you could be charged with ordinary vehicular manslaughter, because texting while driving is illegal and negligent. But no one thinks of texting as a deadly, reckless activity. On the other hand, if your DUI accident involved drag racing another vehicle on city streets, you could face gross vehicular manslaughter, because that activity shows a flagrant disregard for safety.
If you are convicted of felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, you will face four or more years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. You can read more about this charge here: CA Penal Code 191.5 (a) – Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
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