Driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a very serious offense under different laws, as it can have devastating consequences such as fatalities. When a death occurs due to DUI, prosecutors face the difficult task of determining how to charge the responsible individual.
This post will examine how prosecutors charge DUI offenses that involve fatalities, including the various factors that influence the decision and the potential penalties that may be imposed.
Potential DUI charges involving deaths
Every state has its own set of DUI laws. However, some states provide a selection of charges that may apply to a DUI collision resulting in death, given the circumstances. These could be:
- Vehicular homicide
- Negligent homicide
- DUI manslaughter
- “Aggravated” DUI
- Vehicular manslaughter
However, regardless of the state, any DUI involving a fatality is a significant criminal accusation.
When a death occurs due to a DUI, the prosecutor must determine if the evidence is enough to prove that the individual was under the influence when the accident occurred. This may include evidence such as the results of a blood alcohol test, eyewitness testimony, and any relevant surveillance footage. If the prosecutor determines sufficient evidence to charge the individual with a DUI, they will need to decide what specific charges to bring.
One potential charge in these cases is vehicular homicide. This charge applies when the individual’s actions while driving under the influence were reckless or negligent and resulted in the death of another person. In some states, vehicular homicide is a separate offense from DUI. In others, it is considered an “enhancement” to the DUI charge, which increases the severity of the penalty.
In Connecticut, if the individual was operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, they may be charged with “second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, based on reckless conduct,” which is also a Class C felony. This offense carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
However, if the individual’s conduct was deemed to be especially egregious, for instance, if they were driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, they may face charges of “first-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle,” which is a Class B felony. This offense carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. Additionally, if the Class B felony is a second or subsequent offense, the penalty may be increased to up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000.
In addition to these charges, the individual may face other charges related to the accident, such as reckless driving or failure to maintain control of their vehicle. The specific charges brought in an accident case will depend on the details of the accident and the evidence available.
If the individual is found guilty of a DUI offense involving a death, the penalties they face will depend on the specific charges brought against them. These offenses carry significant penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and a potential loss of driving privileges. The penalties to be awarded will vary depending on the state and the circumstances of the individual case.
When a death occurs due to a DUI, the prosecutor handling the case must carefully evaluate the evidence and determine the charges to bring against the responsible individual. Depending on the charges, the individual may face significant penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and a loss of driving privileges. Individuals must understand the repercussions of driving under the influence and avoid doing so.
“Clients facing DUI charges need to understand the seriousness of the charges and the potential consequences. It’s important to have a criminal defense attorney who can help navigate the legal system and work towards the best possible outcome,” says attorney Teresa DiNardi, partner of Lady DUI. “If a DUI results in a fatality, the stakes are even higher, and it’s critical to have legal representation that can mount a strong defense and protect the client’s rights.”