The Basics of Vehicular Manslaughter

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Vehicular manslaughter, also sometimes known as “vehicular homicide”, occurs when an auto accident has caused the death of another person, and the driver was negligent in some way. This might mean that the driver was speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or disobeying any other traffic law. Essentially, the driver was reckless while behind the wheel, and another person died as a result.

In Mississippi, reckless driving is defined as “any person who drives any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This definition applies to all vehicles that would normally be found on a public roadway (for example, cars, trucks, 18-wheelers, etc.).

Driving While Intoxicated | Driving Under the Influence

If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of an accident that caused the death of another person, you may be dealing with an even more complex issue. By their very nature, these two charges often go hand in hand. You may hear this referred to as “DUI Manslaughter”, “DUI Homicide”, or some other combination of these terms.

Sentencing for those who are convicted of DUI Manslaughter may include:

  • No less than 5 years in prison and as much as 25 years
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Keep in mind that this is for each person who died as a result of the accident. If multiple people were in the accident with you, and all of them died, you will be charged for each one.

These penalties are very severe, especially when you consider that this is not a truly violent crime, but one of negligence. Unfortunately, this is one of those mistakes that many people spend a large portion of their lives paying for.

In Mississippi, the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08%. If you are caught driving at this level or higher, you will most certainly be charged with a DUI. The thing you need to understand, however, is that you do not have to actually test at any given BAC level to be charged. If you’re showing signs of being under the influence of any substance, you can be arrested for what is known as Common Law DUI. The only thing that has to happen in this situation is that an officer says you are drunk strictly based on your behavior; this is a very common occurrence. Remember that you do not have to be truly drunk to be considered “under the influence”.

DUI arrests that do not involve alcohol are also becoming increasingly more common. If you show signs of intoxication, and marijuana or other drugs are found in your vehicle, you will be charged with “DUI-Other Substance”.

Whether or not your DUI also includes vehicular manslaughter changes, time is of the essence. You need to contact an experienced DUI attorney as quickly as possible.
Vehicular Manslaughter Involving Pedestrians (with or without alcohol)
It’s hard to believe unless you’ve witnessed something like this, but “vehicle vs. pedestrian” accidents actually aren’t all that uncommon. Below is an excerpt from the CDC Pedestrian Safety Statistics:

Alcohol involvement for the driver or the pedestrian was reported in 48% of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian death. Where alcohol involvement was reported, 34% of pedestrians killed had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of greater than or equal to .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) and 14% of drivers had a BAC of greater than or equal to .08 g/dL.

You didn’t read that wrong. The CDC is telling us that where these types of accidents are concerned, the pedestrian is drunk in more instances than the driver. While that is certainly some interesting trivia, it is generally not considered a crime to walk while intoxicated.

Even in the absence of mind-altering substances, if you hit a pedestrian while driving recklessly, this may also be considered vehicular manslaughter. It’s not hard to guess why children and elderly individuals are the most at-risk pedestrians, and it’s also no surprise that the majority of these incidents happen at night at poorly lit locations.

It’s very important to remember that negligence is the key to the entire concept of vehicular manslaughter. If the event was truly an unavoidable accident, wherein the driver was acting responsibly, then no real crime has been committed. There are a number of factors to consider, which is why you should speak with an attorney about your case as soon as it happens.

Contact the skilled and proven team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC today at (601) 948-1600 for a free initial consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

Photo Credit: orangesky3 via Compfight cc

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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