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DUI Causing Death in California

Generally, a first, second, or third DUI within a 10-year period is prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense. However, you enter felony territory when it’s your fourth DUI within 10 years, or you seriously injured or kill another person as a direct result of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on the penalties for taking someone else’s life while driving under the influence. In California, if you accidentally kill another person while driving under the influence, you will face criminal charges under Section 191.5 of the California Penal Code: either gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

1. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated: You commit this offense if you take someone else’s life while driving under the influence and if while doing it, you did so with gross negligence.In simple terms, “gross negligence” refers to the defendant’s extreme conduct, which departed from the acceptable standard of conduct. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is punishable in state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years.

2. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated: You commit this offense if while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you accidentally take someone else’s life; however, at the time of the killing, you did not display gross negligence. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is punishable by not more than one year in jail, or by 16 months, 2 or 4 years behind bars.

In our experience, anyone can drink and drive and accidentally take someone else’s life. Tragically, this happens to moms and dads, professionals, teachers, construction workers, salesmen, and everyone in between. Usually, it’s non-criminals with jobs and families depending on them who commit this serious DUI offense, and they have a lot to lose.

If you’re facing criminal charges for killing someone in a DUI accident, we urge you to contact our firm to speak with Attorney Landry, a Board-Certified expertin DUI defense. Reach out today to schedule your free initial consultation.