Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated in California
The California Penal Code (PC 191.5(a)) defines the offense of gross vehicular
manslaughter while intoxicated, which is considered to be more severe
because it includes the element of gross negligence as it is associated
with vehicular manslaughter. The burden of proof is again on the district
attorney and it must be shown that:
- You were driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol;
- While you were driving under the influence, you committed an additional
- You committed this additional wrongful act with the requisite gross negligence; and
- Your grossly negligent wrongful act caused the death of another.
Vehicular Manslaughter Without Gross Negligence
California statute 191.5(b)—the death of the individual was "either
the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting
to a felony, but
without gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might
produce death, in an unlawful manner, but
without gross negligence."
As with all
criminal matters, the burden of proof for this offense is with the district attorney and
in order to meet that burden, the prosecution must show the following elements:
- That the driver was operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs
- That the driver negligently committed an unlawful act, or a lawful but
dangerous act, in addition to driving under the influence of drugs and/or
- That the driver's negligence caused the death of another.
What is the Difference?
The two laws differ due to the element of gross negligence, which means
that "a person acts in this manner when he acts in a reckless manner
that creates a high risk of death or bodily injury that a reasonable person
would consider to be dangerous." Thus, the standard of gross negligence
is considered to be at a higher level than that of simple carelessness
or inattentiveness. Accordingly, these two crimes involve different penalties.
Because gross vehicular manslaughter involves the additional element the
penalty is generally more severe.
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated: A sentence to a term in the county
jail for no more than one year or a sentence of a prison term of 16 months,
two or four years.
- Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated: A sentence to a term in
prison of four, six, or 10 years.
However, as with most crimes, the penalty may be enhanced if you have been
previously convicted of a similar charge or charges in the past. In accordance
with the law, thus, should you be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter
while intoxicated after having been previously convicted of the crime,
the possible sentence may be imprisonment for a term of life with the
opportunity to seek parole after serving 15 years.
Contact an Attorney
If you are facing charges related to the offense DUI in the San Joaquin
Valley, including Fresno, Kings County, Madera County and Tulare County,
do not think that your only choice is to plead guilty. Take a moment to
contact the DUI Attorneys at Wapner Jones P.C. and schedule a consultation
in order to discuss the facts of your case and be advised of your options.
Call our office at (559) 257-4707.