Can Family Be Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated?

If you are in a drunk or drugged driving crash and you kill a loved one who is riding in your vehicle, what will happen to you? Can you go to prison for killing a friend or family member? Before we answer the question, we’re going to share a true story that happened not long ago involving a man who allegedly took his wife’s life in a drunk driving crash.

On Aug. 9, 2015, a 33-year-old wife and mother, R. Piparo, was killed in a crash off of Wentworth Springs Road in Georgetown. According to officials, her husband, 33-year-old J. Piparo was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol when the silver Dodge pickup carrying the family of four, rolled over.

The family was driving on a heavily wooded, winding road before J. Piparo lost control of the vehicle. The couple’s two children, ages 3 and 14 months were unharmed; however, their mother was not so lucky. Investigators believed she was the one who sustained most of the injuries due to where she was sitting, and the direction that the vehicle rolled.

After the crash, Mrs. Piparo’s husband was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and booked into the El Dorado County Jail. He faced multiple charges, including child endangerment, DUI causing bodily injury, and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, FOX 40 reported.


Though Mr. Piparo was looking at multiple charges in 2015 and we don’t know the outcome of his DUI case, we’re going to discuss the most serious charges: Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Under 191.5 PC, the penalties depend on whether the defendant acted with ordinary negligence or gross negligence.

If an impaired driver acted with gross negligence, it is a felony offense under Penal Code 191.5(a), which is punishable by 4, 6, or 10 years in prison. But if the person acted with ordinary negligence, they would be charged pursuant to Penal Code 191.5(b).

Under California law, Penal Code 191.5(b) is a wobbler, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case. The penalties can lead to up to 1 year in county jail, or between 16 months and 4 years in prison (felony penalties).

Can you face serious charges if you accidentally take the life of a friend or family member who was riding in your vehicle? Absolutely, the state does not go softer on people who harm their loved ones in DUI crashes.

Facing DUI charges in Orange County? Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to work with a Board-Certified DUI defense specialist!

Related Posts
  • How Will a DUI Impact Your Insurance Rates? Read More
  • Ultimate Guide to DUI Court Procedures Read More
  • 4 Types of DUI Charges Read More