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When an alleged offense of driving under the influence (DUI) involves the loss of someone else’s life, the driver who is accused of DUI is at risk of facing some serious consequences. In a DUI-related vehicular manslaughter case, the driver can be charged a felony and be at risk of spending several years in prison. In comparison, basic DUI offenses tend to be misdemeanors that may or may not result in jail time. In the state of California, a person can be charged with either vehicular manslaughter or gross vehicular manslaughter (the more severe charge) when he or she is accused of causing someone’s death as a result of a DUI offense. The level of negligence by the driver will determine which type of offense is applied.
If you are facing vehicular manslaughter charges, you are going to need an attorney who has the appropriate level of experience handling difficult cases such as these. With 39 years of experience, Santa Ana DUI Attorney Thomas Tears has extensive professional knowledge and experience that could greatly benefit your case. Do not hesitate to speak with our Lawyer at Thomas Tears, Attorney at Law about your defense options!
These are the two types of DUI-related vehicular manslaughter offenses that a person can be charged with in California, according to California Penal Code §191.5:
Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated—This offense occurs when in intoxicated driver commits an unlawful act (not a felony) that is not considered gross negligence and that causes another person to be killed. This crime can also be committed if the driver was carrying out an act that was lawful but likely to cause others harm or death. Vehicular manslaughter offenses involve basic acts of negligence, or a person’s failure to use the same level of caution that a reasonable driver in the same situation would have used. For example, negligence in a case like this might include talking on the phone while driving, following too closely to another driver, speeding, etc. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is punishable by up to one year in jail or up to four years in prison, depending on whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated—This crime is committed when an impaired person carries out the same actions as those committed in a vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated offense (explained above), but with the element of gross negligence. Gross negligence involves reckless actions that are carried with a blatant or willful disregard for the safety of others. For example, a person might drive with gross negligence by intentionally engaging in street racing or driving against traffic. A conviction for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated can lead to a sentence of four, six or ten years in prison. If the defendant has previous DUI-related convictions, he or she can potentially be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
Contact Thomas Tears, Attorney at Law so that you can take advantage of our firm’s free initial consultations. We want to help you come up with a defense strategy that will best protect your future.