A DUI charge can be terrifying; you feel guilty, worried and in many cases, totally alone. The absolute last thing that you should do when facing a DUI charge is to attempt to go through everything by yourself. Though you have the support of your friends and family, a lawyer is critical to getting an intoxication charge reduced.
But what happens if you’re out and you are responsible for death while driving under the influence? What does that level of accident mean for you and your future? And perhaps most specifically, what is the difference between vehicular homicide vs manslaughter?
We’re going to examine what each means, how you can best protect yourself legally and what factors go into the charges you might be facing. Regardless of what charges you’re facing, the absolute first thing to do is find a lawyer and get a consultation.
What Is DUI Manslaughter?
If it’s suspected that you drove under the influence of any substance – alcohol, prescriptions or illegal drugs – and you killed someone else, this is the basic definition of DUI or intoxication manslaughter. Depending on your driving record, history of DUI or other reckless driving incidents, a prosecutor may seek a more serious charge of vehicular homicide. DUI manslaughter (in the first degree) is a felony but carries a more lenient sentence than vehicular homicide, and with the help of a lawyer, can potentially be pleaded down. Sentencing varies state-to-state, but a suspension of license, jail time, drug rehabilitation and fines are all possible sentences.
DUI manslaughter is considered unintentional and negligent, but not aggravated at face value. For instance, a person who is charged with DUI manslaughter may have recently switched medications that impair their ability to drive, but they weren’t made sufficiently aware. It’s also possible there are other mitigating factors that took what could have been a poor choice and turned it into an extremely unfortunate event. The prosecuting attorney will look at these factors when determining what charges to seek.
What Is Vehicular Homicide?
This is a much more serious charge than manslaughter. Often this charge is sought when you have a history of reckless driving, DUI or prior incidents of DUI driving causing injury. The prosecutor will seek this charge only if they can prove extreme negligence and a pattern of aggressively reckless driving.
With the help of a lawyer, you can potentially plead this down, particularly if this was your first incident. Vehicular homicide is a felony and carries the potential for significant jail time, fines and long-term suspension of your license.
Don’t Go Through the Justice System Alone
Only a trained lawyer can help you navigate this process. Most law offices offer free, confidential consultations giving you an idea of the potential benefit of hiring a professional. Remember, a DUI manslaughter or even vehicular homicide charge is not the end of your life! With the help of a dedicated law team like Wasatch Defense Lawyers in Salt Lake City, you can reduce the seriousness of the charge and begin rebuilding.