In Orange County and throughout the nation, it seems like almost everybody
drinks alcohol to some degree, only if it’s on special occasions.
While there are laws criminalizing driving under the influence of alcohol
and drugs, people still have a hard time understanding how much alcohol
(or drugs) is too much.
This situation is understandable considering that people don’t ordinarily
get any alcohol education until it’s too late and they are arrested
for DUI and ordered to attend DUI School.
Fatal DUI Accidents Affect Many Lives
People drink and drive, and some people think they’re being safe
by only having two drinks, while others have only one drink but don’t
realize that their prescription medication cannot be mixed with alcoholic
drinks, and in effect, they become hazardous drivers.
Regardless of the circumstances, ordinary citizens get into DUI accidents
that end up killing their passengers, pedestrians, fellow drivers and
others. Sometimes, the victim is the drunk or drugged driver’s own
family member. Fatal DUIs are both tragic and accidental, and many lives
What if someone is killed in a DUI accident?
In California, if a driver kills someone else while
driving under the influence of
drugs or alcohol, including lawfully prescribed drugs, he or she can be charged
with either: 1) gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or 2)
vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Section 191.5 (a), a person commits
gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated when they unintentionally kill another human being while driving a vehicle
under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the killing was the result
of: committing an unlawful act (not a felony) with
gross negligence, or a lawful act that may produce death with gross negligence, but in an
vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a felony, punishable by 4, 6, or 10 years in prison.
Under Section 191.5(b), a person commits
vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated when they unintentionally kill another person while driving a vehicle
under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and the death was a direct result
of the defendant committing a misdemeanor (without gross negligence), or while committing an illegal act that could produce death, in an unlawful
without gross negligence.
Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated results in a sentence of 16 months,
2, or 4 years.
Was gross negligence involved?
The major difference between sections 191.5(a) and (b) is “gross
negligence,” which refers to acting in such a negligent way, as
to pose a high risk of injury or death upon others.
For example, if someone drives 60 mph in a school zone while under the
influence and kills a child walking home from school, they will likely
be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated because
driving 60 mph in a 15 mph school zone is
On the other hand, if a drunk driver is driving the speed limit on the
freeway and they lose control of their vehicle, causing their vehicle
to roll over three times, and they kill their passenger who was not wearing
a seatbelt, they will likely be charged with vehicular manslaughter while
intoxicated because losing control of their vehicle doesn’t necessarily
amount to gross negligence.
Were you involved in a fatal DUI accident in Orange County? If so, you
need a strong defense.
Contact our firm to speak with a Board Certified DUI defense specialist for free.