DUI & Vehicular Manslaughter

by Ladyblogger on January 10, 2013

Driving while you are intoxicated presents several different issues. Not only do you run the risk of being arrested for a DUI, but you could also be the cause of at least one of the approximately 15,000 DUI deaths that happen each year. Each state prosecutes drivers in this situation differently, but the odds are high that you will end up with a minimum of a vehicular manslaughter charge. In Pennsylvania, for example, there were 470 alcohol related fatalities in 2009, and the state pursued vehicular manslaughter charges against many of the responsible drivers.

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Often known as vehicular homicide, this legal term enables the police to prosecute an individual who kills someone as the result of doing something illegal while driving a vehicle. There are vehicular manslaughter laws on the books in 47 states, and these laws allow a vehicle to be looked at as a deadly weapon from a legal standpoint. Although no one wants to be convicted of a vehicular manslaughter charge, it is definitely better than being charged with murder. After all, the majority of people who are found guilty of vehicular manslaughter will be sentenced to 10 years or less, but a person who is convicted of murder can expect to receive a prison sentence of approximately 25 years or more. It is important to note, however, that some states, including Minnesota, allow the driver to be charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter if they kill a pregnant woman. Because of this, the amount of jail time that a convicted individual will serve could greatly exceed the average amount.

Dealing with a Vehicular Manslaughter Charge

The first thing that you need to do if you are charged with vehicular manslaughter is contact a Pennsylvania DUI attorney. Make sure that you hire an attorney who has experience working on both DUI and vehicular manslaughter cases. It is especially important in a case of this type to insist on a lawyer who has a proven track record of successful cases. After all, the attorney that you hire will play a major role in whether or not you spend the next several years behind bars.

Pleading Guilty

In some cases, it makes the most sense to plead guilty in exchange for receiving a reduced sentence. For example, if the prosecutor has incontrovertible evidence that you were both drunk and responsible for the accident, you can save yourself a lot of time and money by agreeing to a plea bargain. Again, a good lawyer will be able to not only advise you as to when you should take a plea bargain versus going to court, but they can also negotiate the best possible sentence for you. In some cases, an individual who admits guilt in a DUI vehicular manslaughter case can avoid jail time altogether.

Pleading Innocent

If you were not drunk at the time of the incident, you should definitely go to court. After all, breathalyzer tests have a history of providing incorrect results, and a skilled attorney will have no problem convincing a jury to look past the results of your test. Although people are often accused of a DUI when there is a deadly car accident, the truth is that less than 40 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by a drunk driver. Your attorney will use this statistic to help your case, and they will also attempt to prove that the other driver was actually at fault. Be prepared for a potentially lengthy trial, and make sure that you do not alter your story at any point during the proceedings.

Anthony Joseph writes freelance in his spare time, and contributes this article toward raising awareness of DUI dangers. If you’ve recently been charged, contacting a Pennsylvania DUI attorney from the Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis is the best investment you can make. As a former senior assistant DA, Mr. Kellis knows the law and the tactics that law enforcement will sometimes use.

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