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Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular Manslaughter Inclusion in State Laws

Vehicular Manslaughter Inclusion in State Laws

Vehicular manslaughter laws can vary in definition and entailment of punishment from state to state. Most states in all have adopted into their state law vehicular manslaughter. The three states that don’t have such a statute are Arizona, Alaska, and Montana. Most states that have accepted the vehicular manslaughter statutes recognize an automobile as a deadly weapon when it is in motion.   The view the states have on the matter will differ minimally or greatly in regards to how the charge is perceived. For example, some states see vehicular manslaughter (or homicide) similar to committing the offense of reckless homicide and carry out with the same punishment as that offense. 
The reason that states chose to adopt these statutes was to be able to impose stronger penalties on those found guilty and also to make it simpler to convict them. The majority of the states that have vehicular manslaughter statutes have added them to their statute of manslaughter as a sub category. In these statutes they define under their terms what is considered to be vehicular manslaughter, the type of charge that can be made in accordance with offense, the dates in which the law became effective, and any additional additions that were made to the law in more recent times.  
Vehicular manslaughter charges carry  various degrees like other crimes in different states. For example, in New York State, a person can be found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree when they cause the death of another person and one (or more) of the following: drives under the influence; drives a vehicle containing flammable gas that weighs more than 18,000 pounds in violation of another statute;  or drives an ATV while under the influence.  The person can be convicted of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree when they commit the crime in the second degree ( as stated above) and either: is driving  with a revoked or suspended license; has a blood alcohol level of .18 or higher; has a prior DUI conviction; or causes the death of more than one person. 
It is clear that every circumstance must be addressed in the state statutes for vehicular manslaughter that is relevant to that state. An example of this would be a state with high marine activity such as Florida, where it includes more circumstances dealing with boats and other watercraft. Some states are trying to amend their existing statues to provide those culpable of committing vehicular manslaughter suffer stronger and more harsh penalties. This is after studies showed that people convicted in the past and present were facing  shorter sentences for their offenses. Some states even shortened their maximum sentences for negligent vehicular manslaughter.
With current cases still on the rise in some areas, there needed to be a change made to balance things out. More changes to these statutes should be expected in the near future, and perhaps the remaining 3 states will join in by including vehicular manslaughter into their state law.

Vehicular Manslaughter Background At A Glance

Vehicular Manslaughter Background At A Glance


Vehicular manslaughter, or vehicular homicide, occurs when a death is caused by reckless or negligent driving.  In cases in which drunk driving is the cause of the death, it is called DUI manslaughter.  DUI manslaughter is when a person driving under the influence causes an accident in which someone is killed.  The victim can be a pedestrian, someone in another vehicle or a passenger in the vehicle of the driver.  Vehicular homicide caused by driving under the influence is a felony.
Automobile accidents account for many deaths each year and drunk driving is the number one cause of these vehicle-related deaths in the United States.  Drunk driving is also the most common reason for vehicular homicide cases.  In cases of DUI vehicular homicide, the driver will be charged with a DUI as well as vehicular homicide.  Accidents due to drunk driving are so common that approximately 40 percent of the United States population will be involved in an accident, minor or serious, caused by alcohol at some point in their lives.
Laws regarding driving under the influence and vehicular homicide will vary by state. However DUI vehicular manslaughter laws generally take one of two forms. In some states the charge will be vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, in which the driver was driving under the influence and drove extremely recklessly.
In other cases, vehicular homicide laws applied to DUI cases will be classified as vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence, in which the driver was driving under the influence and violated a traffic law, but was not extremely negligent.  In cases of vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence the driver may also failed to have used reasonable care to prevent injury or death.
The sentences and punishments for vehicular homicide involving DUI vary.  If gross negligence is found, they may face ten years in prison for each person killed.  In cases of ordinary negligence, four years of prison time for each victim killed is more likely.  Fines, the loss of driving privileges and a felony record may all accompany a conviction of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence.
A DUI attorney can help reduce the penalties for driving under the influence and vehicular homicide, but in many cases, judges and juries are unsympathetic to a drunk driver who causes a death.  However, a DUI attorney may be able to prove that an officer had no reason to pull you over, that sobriety tests were administered illegally or incorrectly, or that something else altogether caused the accident, which could lower or eliminate the jail time and fines and penalties associated with your DUI vehicular homicide charges.
The best way to avoid a DUI vehicular manslaughter case is to not drive after drinking.  Designate a driver to stay sober if you are going out and drinking with a group of friends.  Get a ride home with someone else or call a taxi if you have been drinking.  Don’t let friends drive drunk and never get in the car with a driver who has been drinking.

Vehicular Manslaughter Quick Overview

Vehicular Manslaughter Quick Overview

Background

Vehicular manslaughter refers to the crime of causing the death of a person due to the illegal driving of a motor vehicle. This includes drunk driving, gross negligence, speeding, or reckless driving. This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor with a maximum  punishment of one year in county jail or a fine; or can be charged as a felony whereas the offender will face a prison term in state prison. An example of a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge would be driving a few miles over the speed limit when the accident occurred. A felony vehicular manslaughter charge would result if the driver was found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Vehicular manslaughter was converted into law as a form to treat offenders the same as those of other grave crimes.


Purpose

Due to the rising number of vehicle related deaths over the years, a significant change was long overdue. When it came to be known that the number one reason for vehicle related deaths was drunk driving, time came for a change. States adopted into vehicular manslaughter into their law statutes to bring on a change to these negative trends. This law granted the right to states, to treat vehicular manslaughter offenders the same as those of other grave crimes. Before these laws were passed, only weak sentences and punishment existed those responsible.  They did not serve as a strong force to cause fear for those looking to violate the law. Most states agreed that it was time to put these people on the same level as of those committing manslaughter with any other weapon. This paved the way for a big change.
Inclusion in State Law

The inclusion of vehicular manslaughter into state law has been in effect for every state except three. These states are Montana, Arizona, and Alaska. These states do not recognize an automobile as a deadly weapon when it is in motion, like the others. For the rest of the states, the charge of vehicular manslaughter is universal in what it means, but the charges can vary. Some states view the circumstances leading up to the instance slightly different than others, therefore they use degrees to classify the charges. Degrees can vary on the state of the driver at the time of the accident, and also be influenced by other details, such as their current status of their license. Some states today are attempting to strengthen the penalties they impose on those found guilty of vehicular manslaughter.


Sentencing and Charges

Drunk driving is the number one cause of vehicle-related deaths. With this said, the charges for vehicular manslaughter have become much more stringent over the years. That means that in direct correlation, to penalties a person can face are also a lot tougher. The way the crime  is treated can be influenced by things a variety of factors. These can be prior convictions, the severity of the crime, whether or not alcohol or drugs played a part, and sociological factors. An example of a sociological factor can be the way the community feels to the particular type of crime. A person found guilty of vehicular manslaughter can expect to face fines and or minor jail time, a full prison term, probation, license suspension, as a few examples of penalties.

Vehicular Manslaughter Purpose At A Glance

Vehicular Manslaughter Purpose At A Glance

Vehicular Manslaughter Sentencing and Charges

Vehicular Manslaughter Sentencing and ChargesThe charges one receives for vehicular manslaughterstatesSince drunk driving is the number one cause of deaths related to vehicles, anyone with a vehicular manslaughter and DUI conviction will most likely face the highest punishment possible. The influence of alcohol though, doesn’t have to be involved to provide such a tough charge. A driver can be found criminally negligent under the law which has the potential to impose the highest level of punishment as well. 

One instance of criminal negligence  would be, if a driver is driving around with friends; recklessly, speeding, disregarding traffic signs/lights and they get into an accident. In this accident, someone in the other vehicle or their own is killed, that driver can be charged with vehicular manslaughter and face the consequences accordingly. The two ways vehicular manslaughter can be charged is as a misdemeanor or felonyjudicial discretionFor most accused, it is hard to avoid steep penalties in any DUI conviction, and while also being charged with vehicular manslaughter, the consequences are often dire. In some cases, if a person has a very aggressive, and extremely experienced defense attorney, they can portray mitigating factors to the court in an attempt.