When Someone Gets Killed in a DUI Accident
What Happens if My New York DUI Caused Someone’s Death?
There is a reason why all states are cracking down on drunk driving. The fact is that it is incredibly dangerous and results in a lot of lost lives every year. When a drunk driver kills someone, it actually claims two lives – the victim who dies and the impaired driver who now faces enormous criminal and civil penalties and a lifetime of regret and guilt. If you have been arrested for DWI in New York, and your drunk driving caused someone else’s death, you will likely face serious charges, up to and including vehicular manslaughter. If this describes you, then you need to call a DUI Lawyer immediately.
How Manslaughter is Charged in New York
New York law allows the prosecutor’s office to bring your charge in three different ways (first or second degree or as an aggravated offense). In general, to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter, you must be intoxicated to a level that warrants a DWI conviction. Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs (DWAI-Alcohol or DWAI-Drugs) is not enough to warrant a manslaughter conviction unless you are operating a commercial vehicle.
Just take a look at the different levels of vehicular manslaughter, beginning with the least severe penalties first.
Second Degree Vehicular Manslaughter
CLASS D FELONY. In order to get a conviction for second degree vehicular manslaughter in New York, the prosecutor needs only prove that you were drunk at the time that you were driving, and that your intoxication or impairment directly caused the crash that killed the person. If you were drunk but not at fault, it is not manslaughter. If you were drunk and at fault, but something else caused the victim’s death, then it is not manslaughter. Your drunk driving must be the direct cause of the victim’s death.
If convicted, you face up to seven years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
First Degree Vehicular Manslaughter
CLASS C FELONY. Keep in mind that as your charges become more serious, they include the lesser offenses. In other words, prosecutors will typically bring your charges as both First and Second Degree Vehicular Manslaughter, as opposed to bringing just one charge.
To prove the First Degree offense, the prosecutor must prove at least one of the following:
- BAC of .18 or higher
- Suspended license due to DWI or refusing a test
- Prior DWI in past 10 years
- More than one death caused by the crash
- Prior vehicular manslaughter convictions
- A victim under 15 years of age
If convicted, you face up to 15 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
CLASS B FELONY. The highest category of the offense is aggravated vehicular manslaughter, which is reserved for the most severe cases. To prove this, generally the prosecutor must show that you were driving recklessly (with reckless disregard), and must prove all elements of First Degree Vehicular Manslaughter.
If convicted, you face up to 25 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Long Island DUI Attorneys Fighting Vehicular Manslaughter
If you have been charged with Vehicular Manslaughter in NYC or on Long Island, you need to get aggressive about your defense. Speak to a Long Island DUI defense attorney at 888-DUI-LAWYER right away to discuss your case and get answers to your questions. There are a lot of challenging nuances to New York criminal laws, so do not take chances on your freedom. Your entire future is depending on you making a good choice. Give yourself a fighting chance.