Vehicular manslaughter is defined as the act of causing harm to another person unintentionally using a vehicle, so that it results in the death of that person. The driver could be driving carelessly or recklessly or could be driving illegally. In other cases, the driver may be speeding or driving under the influence of an intoxicant, resulting in death of a human being.
Vehicular manslaughter is a criminal charge and carries fines and penalties depending on the circumstances. In case of a minor crime, the offender can face a maximum punishment of up to a year in jail, along with a fine. In felony cases, the offender has to serve a term in state prison, and be required to pay other fines and fees. Cases that result in a fatality are most likely treated as felonies, whereas simply over speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol are considered misdemeanor crimes. Death of a passenger in the vehicle as a result of reckless driving is also classified as vehicular manslaughter.
In gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter cases, the crime does not require an intention to kill or hurt someone. It simply requires intent to drive under the circumstances.
There are certain typical types of driving that result in vehicular manslaughter charges as listed below:
Negligent driving – In most states, carelessness or negligent driving on the part of the driver will result in a vehicular manslaughter charge. Negligence refers to inattentiveness and lacks care and prudence on the part of the driver. Even if the driver takes their eyes off the road for a brief moment, causing a fatal accident, it will be considered as vehicular manslaughter.
Gross negligence or Reckless disregard – Gross negligence and reckless disregard of other’s safety can fall under vehicular manslaughter if it results in a fatality. If someone drives at high speed with a high blood alcohol level, travels at the wrong side of the road, fails to flash proper lights, or fails to apply brakes in a timely manner, resulting in injury or death, it will be classified as vehicular homicide.
Driving Under the Influence – Driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of an intoxicant are all considered reckless behaviors. Depending on the severity of the accident and the Blood Alcohol Concentration level of the driver, and whether or not the driver’s actions resulted in death of another person will lead to vehicular manslaughter charges.
Violating a safety statute – If a drivers violates a safety statute, he or she can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. For example, drivers are supposed to have clear windshields and if their windshield is obscured, resulting in injury, a vehicular manslaughter charge may follow.
Driving while feeling sleepy – Distracted driving and driving while sleepy, while drowsy, or while falling asleep all fall under reckless driving. The person will face a vehicular manslaughter charge if they decide to intentionally drive after being awake for more than 36 hours due to work or any other emergency. Voluntarily putting oneself and others in danger is considered negligent behavior and is punishable by law.
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