If your DUI resulted in a death, you may feel hopeless and unsure where to turn to. Unfortunately, being convicted of vehicular manslaughter can result in heavy prison sentences and suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. As such, it is important to obtain an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible after the incident.
What Is Vehicular Manslaughter?
If you accidentally killed someone in a driving accident while intoxicated, you may be charged under either California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) or 191.5(b).
PC Section 191.5(a)
A violation of PC Section 191.5(a) occurs when you commit gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. This means that you were acting with gross negligence at the time of the accident. Gross negligence is defined as a reckless disregard for human life. Some acts that constitute gross negligence include driving on the wrong side of the road, speeding heavily, or running a red light. Note that the grossly negligent act is separate from the actual DUI.
PC Section 191.5(b)
A violation of PC Section 191.5(b) occurs when you commit vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, but without gross negligence. Ordinary negligence does not rise to the level of gross negligence and normally occurs due to a brief lapse in focus. For example, if you answer a text and cause a fatal accident, you would likely be charged under PC Section 191.5(b).
Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter
The penalties for vehicular manslaughter depend on whether you acted with gross negligence. If you acted with gross negligence and are convicted under PC Section 191.5(a), you may face:
- 4, 6, or 10 years in state prison
- Suspension of your driver’s license
If you acted with ordinary negligence under PC Section 191.5(b), the prosecution may charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor. For a misdemeanor conviction, you will only serve a maximum of 1 year in county jail. For a felony conviction, you may face 16 months, 2 years, or 4 years in state prison.
Defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter
Being charged with vehicular manslaughter can be scary to face on your own. However, not all hope is lost. With a skilled defense attorney, you may be able to assert one of the following defenses that can reduce your charges or get your case dismissed altogether.
You and your attorney may be able to argue that you were not intoxicated at the time of the incident. In some cases, there may have been other factors that made you appear intoxicated, such as illness or fatigue. In other cases, you may be able to challenge the validity of your DUI test results if they resulted from police misconduct.
No Gross Negligence
The penalties for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence are much harsher than those for ordinary negligence. If your attorney can prove that you did not act with gross negligence, you may be able to get your sentence reduced. For example, if you reached into the seat next to you to retrieve something and caused an accident due to your lapse in focus, your attorney may be able to assert this defense.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter due to DUI in California, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. At Wallin & Klarich, we know the most effective defenses to get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in a wide range of DUI cases, and we have the skills and resources to help you avoid jail time and the loss of your license.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you.
Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.