A OVI / DUI goes from bad to terrible and tragic when a death results. When it does, the driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Such charges are proper when a driver unintentionally causes an accident that results in the death of a passenger, pedestrian, or occupant of another vehicle while the driver was under the influence of alcohol or other substances causing impairment. Vehicular manslaughter is also an appropriate charge when the driver causing an accident resulting in death was driving recklessly or carelessly. Whether alcohol was involved or not, a manslaughter, rather than murder, charge is appropriate because of the unintentional nature of accident and resulting death. This lack of intent reflects an absence of a “guilty mind” necessary for a charge of murder. Penalties for any type of manslaughter are still severe, however.
Aggravated Vehicular Manslaughter
In Ohio, vehicular manslaughter involving alcohol is termed “aggravated vehicular homicide.” By “aggravated,” the charge refers to the presence of an aggravating factor. As concerns our present discussion, the aggravating factor is alcohol or other drugs. When alcohol is involved, aggravated vehicular homicide is prosecuted as a second-degree felony. Accordingly, penalties may include up to 8 years of jail time and $15,000 in fines. Depending on previous alcohol-related convictions or driver’s license suspensions at the time of the incident, aggravated vehicular homicide may be prosecuted as a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony is the highest level of felony under Ohio law; for this charge, a conviction can result in up to 10 years of jail time and $20,000 in fines.
A car is not the only type of vehicle relevant to aggravated vehicular homicide. Others include motorcycles, snowmobiles, locomotives, watercraft, and aircraft.
What To Do If You Have Been Charged With Aggravated Vehicular Homicide In The State Of Ohio
If you have been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide in the state of Ohio, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Ohio DUI attorney at Suhre & Associates, LLC immediately. The outcome of the charges against you could change your life forever. Everything from your reputation to your family’s financial security to your very freedom is at stake. As such, the prosecution bears a high burden of proof. It must prove the element of causation – linking the operation of the motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the event of the accident to the resulting death of the passenger, occupant, or pedestrian. It is a complex chain with many links, and a dedicated attorney will work meticulously to explore weaknesses with regard to causation.
Besides a trial in the criminal justice system, you may also face wrongful death charges filed by survivors of the deceased in the civil justice system. In either or both contexts, the process will be lengthy and complex. An attorney will thoroughly analyze the facts specific to your case, explain your legal rights every step of the way, and work diligently to help protect your future.