If you are accused of DUI and someone died, you will most likely be charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
If your DUI involved the loss of someone’s life, you will most likely be charged with one of two offenses: vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Although these two charges sound similar, they carry very different potential outcomes. Ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the less serious of the two. It’s also the more common.
Manslaughter is a legal term that means you did something illegal and caused someone’s death, but you didn’t mean to kill anyone. It is different from murder in that murder assumes you intended to take a life; manslaughter does not. But manslaughter does assume you were negligent—that you did you should have known was dangerous.
It’s hard for the prosecution to prove a vehicular manslaughter charge. They have to show that, besides driving under the influence, you did something else risky or illegal, which ultimately led to the death. For example:
- You texted while driving drunk, and the accident happened while you were distracted by the text
- You drove while stoned, and rolled through a stoplight, causing an accident
Unlike gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is always a misdemeanor. If convicted, you face up to a year in jail, plus a fine of up to $1000 and all the other penalties for DUI.
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