A man from Lynchburg, Virginia pleaded guilty on July 6, 2017 to drunk driving charges dating back to a car accident in November 2016. According to The News & Advance, the offender faces up to 17 years in prison for various crimes, including involuntary manslaughter: The crash killed a passenger in the other vehicle involved in the head-on collision. When law enforcement arrived at the scene, the offender failed field sobriety tests and tests showed a blood alcohol content of .13 percent. This tragic story demonstrates how the circumstances can turn a drunk driving offense into a serious felony, with severe DUI penalties under Virginia law.
Manslaughter in General
The crime of manslaughter occurs when someone unlawfully kills another human being; however, unlike other types of murder charges, there is no premeditation. There is no intent to kill the other person, but the offender’s actions result in the victim’s death.
Involuntary Manslaughter for DUI
When a person is operating a motorized vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and causes an accident that results in death to another person, the crime is involuntary manslaughter by DUI in Virginia. That driver doesn’t intend to kill the victim and doesn’t engage in premeditation, but the offender’s actions are the cause of the accident – and therefore, the cause of death.
In addition, Virginia law provides for the crime of “aggravated” involuntary manslaughter. You may be charged with this offense if your conduct was so wanton and blameworthy as to demonstrate a careless disregard for human life.
Involuntary manslaughter is a Class 5 Felony that carries a sentence of one year in prison, and up to 10 years maximum; you also face a fine up to $2,500. However, aggravated involuntary manslaughter is more severe. It’s punishable by a one year mandatory minimum imprisonment, and a maximum of 20 years’ jail time.
A Virginia DUI Attorney Will Protect Your Rights
When drunk driving causes injuries or death of another person, the penalties for DUI will go far beyond a driver’s license suspension and fines: You could be incarcerated for years if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Under the circumstances, you need an experienced DUI lawyer to protect your rights and present all available defenses. The attorneys at Shannon & Associates, P.C. have represented clients in various DUI cases, so please contact or call us at (757) 228-5529. We can answer your questions or set up a consultation to discuss the details of your case.