Vehicular Manslaughter Laws in California
Santa Barbara DUI Defense Lawyer
Law enforcement takes drunk driving very seriously in the United States – especially if an intoxicated motorist harms or kills another person. Vehicular manslaughter is listed under Penal Code §191.5. In California, there are several types of vehicular manslaughter: gross vehicular manslaughter and standard vehicular manslaughter. Both of these crimes are subject to serious consequences.
If you are facing allegations of vehicular manslaughter in Santa Barbara, the DUI defense lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can help you avoid an unnecessary conviction. With more than five decades of experience behind us, we have the skill to create an effective and aggressive case strategy to obtain the case outcome you need.
What is vehicular manslaughter?
According to California Penal Code §191.5(b), vehicular manslaughter involves the unlawful killing of another human being. In order to be accused and convicted of vehicular manslaughter, the defendant must have violated one of the following circumstances:
- Operated a motor vehicle under the age of 21 with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .05% or more
- Operated a car under the influence of any drug or alcoholic beverage
- Operated a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, resulting in an injury
Under CA Vehicle Code §191.5(c)(2), vehicular manslaughter is punishable by one year in a county jail. Under certain circumstances, this crime is punishable by 16 months, two years, or four years in prison.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
Gross vehicular manslaughter is outlined in California Penal Code §191.5(a). According to the law, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated occurs when a drunk driver unlawfully kills another person while driving a vehicle. Gross vehicular manslaughter is committed "without malice aforethought." In other words, the offense only takes place when the driver accidentally causes a fatality while driving under the influence. Like regular vehicular manslaughter, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated only occurs when the driver operates a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is punishable by four, six, or ten years of incarceration in a state prison.
Vehicular Manslaughter vs. Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
The presence of "gross negligence" is the difference between vehicular manslaughter and gross vehicular manslaughter. Gross negligence may be described as an extreme deviation from standard behavior. However, gross negligence (in relationship to a specific DUI case) can only be defined in a court of law. Generally speaking, gross negligence is committed when an individual acts indifferently toward the wellbeing of another person. Gross vehicular manslaughter is a serious crime with serious consequences. According to California Penal Code §191.5(d), prior convictions can enhance the penalties associated with this offense. With a prior conviction on your record, you could face between 15 years to life in prison for subsequent convictions.