Criminal Defense Attorney Explains Vehicular Manslaughter

Any type of conveyance can be considered a weapon if its operator caused the death of another due to gross negligence. This negligence may involve drunk driving, speeding, or reckless driving. A charge of vehicular manslaughter might be entered by the prosecution (the State) if a human being was killed as the result of said negligence. A criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you are charged with a crime.

Types & Consequences

Many states separate this offense into two distinct categories: DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. Generally speaking, the former is more serious because it involves a substance that is known to impair the senses. As a result, the charges may range in seriousness depending on the driver’s level of intoxication at the time of the crash. If, for example, the driver is tested, and his blood alcohol was over the legal limit of .08 percent, he may face mandatory prison time.

Whether caused by speeding or reckless and distracted driving, a person who is charged with vehicular manslaughter is actually being indicted for negligence. Depending on the state, a driver could face fines or possible jail time if convicted. In fact, some states treat drivers the same whether there was alcohol involved or not. For example, Florida does not make a distinction between DUI manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter (a charge that does not involve alcohol). Both are second-degree felonies in the Sunshine State. Motorists who are convicted of either crime will face a $10,000 fine and/or 15 years in state prison.

No matter the laws of your state, an experienced criminal defense attorney will help you protect your rights in court. In addition to representing you, he or she can create a plausible defense strategy to explain and defend your actions.

Possible Defenses

Although the possible penalties are the same in some states, a charge of vehicular homicide is much harder to prove than one of DUI manslaughter. If the accused was deemed legally intoxicated by a police officer at the accident scene, he might have an uphill battle in court. But proving that a driver was grossly negligent while completely sober is difficult. In most cases, witness testimony is the deciding factor. And since witness testimony is notoriously unreliable, a good criminal defense attorney may be able to create reasonable doubt where no real evidence exists.


If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Even if you were not under the influence of alcohol, the charges and potential penalties could be the same. An experienced team of defense attorneys can help. They will talk to witnesses, interview police officers, and find out what really happened. Only then will they begin to prepare a solid defense strategy.