The primary reason that California continues to strengthen its DUI laws is due to the deaths that are associated with drunk driving incidents. These events are as tragic as they come, and it’s easy to understand why the state has such a vested interest in limiting them. The punishments involved with such cases are quite severe, and they merit attention. Let’s take a look.
Understanding Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
California makes a distinction between two levels of vehicular manslaughter. This distinction is based upon the level of negligence that is shown by the driver who committed the act of manslaughter. The lower charge you can face in a DUI case that results in someone’s death is vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The greater charge is gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
A number of different things will be taken into consideration when determining the level of negligence a driver showed in the accident that resulted in death, and thus the level of charge that is ultimately filed. Gross negligence, in the eyes of the state, would refer to someone who engaged in purposely reckless behavior that any reasonable person would believe could lead to death or bodily injury. Put another way, gross negligence would refer to a case wherein a driver displayed wanton disregard for the safety of others. Negligence that falls below this threshold is considered by the state, for the most part, to be ordinary negligence.
Given that choosing to drive while intoxicated already displays a wanton disregard for the safety of others, negligence can be tricky in these cases. Therefore, the prosecutor who ultimately files the charges will consider a number of different things when making his or her determination. For example, the prosecutor might consider whether there was an emergency reason that a driver got behind the wheel while intoxicated. The prosecutor might also examine the speed at which the driver was operating his or her automobile. These and many other factors will come into play.
What Could Happen if I’m Convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated?
The first thing you need to know is that the penalties you face for the vehicular manslaughter component of your DUI charge are in addition to the penalties you face for the DUI charge itself. As far as the penalties for vehicular manslaughter that you face, it will depend upon how you were charged by the prosecutor.
Simple vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated could be considered a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the circumstances. If the charge is a misdemeanor, then you will face a sentence of up to one year to be served in a county jail. If the charge is a felony, then you will face a sentence of 16 months to 4 years to be served in a state prison.
Gross vehicular manslaughter is automatically considered a felony, and carries with it the consequences of being a convicted felon. In addition, you will face a minimum sentence of four years to be served in a state prison. At maximum, you could end up serving a ten-year sentence in a state prison.
Hiring a Lawyer for Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated Charges
Given the severity of the punishments you stand to face, it’s vitally important that you retain the services of a qualified and experienced California DUI attorney. I have years of experience representing California residents like you in such cases, and I can help you to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. In order to get in touch for a free consultation, please give me a call at (760) 613-5384?. I look forward to assisting you.