Causing a fatality involving a pedestrian or another vehicle is a serious offense for someone with prior DUIs, with the highest penalties. A vehicular homicide conviction could mean a life sentence.
Prosecutors might be willing to negotiate a vehicular homicide case, and Mr. Weiss has decades of experience in getting DUI-related charges reduced or dismissed so the clients stay out of jail and keep their records clean.
For a "vehicular homicide" conviction the following three criteria need to be met by the driver:
- He or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- He or she has 3 prior DUI convictions
- He or she "proximately causes the death of another person while driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle on or off the highways of this State."
Therefor, someone who has 2 prior DUI convictions, and is convicted of killing someone while driving drunk, would instead be charged with a ‘Felony DUI causing death’ which has less penalties than a Vehicular homicide conviction.
There is also a difference between vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter. A vehicular manslaughter conviction is only a misdemeanor and caused by negligence of the driver. Alcohol doesn’t need to be involved, like in a vehicular homicide conviction.
What can we do in your defense?
A prosecutor in a vehicular homicide case must prove all three criteria has been met for a conviction. An arrest doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be convicted.
Some of the defenses we would look at in these kinds of cases include the following:
- Drunk driving was not the cause of the fatality. If the prosecutor can’t show that the driver was at fault for the death, the charge should be dismissed.
- The victim might be more at fault than the driver. The charge should be dismissed if the drive is found not at fault.
- The driver did not begin drinking or taking drugs until after he/she stopped driving the car. If we can show that the driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol once the accident happened, the charge should be dismissed.
Vehicular homicide is a Felony class A, which is the most severe of all felonies. A felony record can negatively impact your future long after you have served your time and paid your debt to society. The following punishment might be served:
- 25 to life in Nevada State Prison (with the possibility of parole after 10 years)
- possible suspension or revocation of driver’s license.
- Anyone who has a small child (birth to 14 years) in the car during the accident will most likely get a longer sentence.
You might not be able to get your case completely dismissed, but instead reduced to other charges such as
Felony Reckless: This charge does not need to involve drunk driving, but the driver still acted with disregard for the safety of other drivers or pedestrians. The penalties include fines of $2000 to $5000 and 1 to 6 years in prison.
Felony DUI causing death: It’s the same crime as vehicular homicide but the driver does not need to have prior DUIs. The prison sentence is between 2 and 22 years
Vehicular manslaughter: Someone causing a fatal crash due to simple negligence, with a maximum of 6 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine.
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