Getting caught driving while intoxicated can result in serious consequences. Depending on the state, the charge could be a DUI, second-degree murder, or involuntary manslaughter. In most cases, the penalties are the same. You may be facing a felony charge, license suspension, and possibly a fine. Depending on the severity of the crime, you could spend years in prison. If you are charged with drunk driving and killing someone, you must retain a competent DUI attorney who has the experience to fight your case.
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The legal limit for alcohol consumption in California is 0.08%. For drivers under 21, the legal limit is a little bit lower. For drivers who are commercial or driving in school zones, the legal limit is even lower. In the states that have a stricter legal limit, you may face higher penalties if you are found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. A DUI conviction will increase your car insurance rates, and you may also be charged with driving while under the influence. You may also be charged with driving while your license is suspended.
The most common DUI charge is vehicular manslaughter. This charge applies to anyone who is killed by a drunk driver. It is a class 2 felony and the average sentence is ten years in prison. In some jurisdictions, this charge can be elevated to first-degree manslaughter. The DUI law may also involve other charges such as driving while under the influence of drugs or prescription medications.
The charge of manslaughter is more common than the charge of murder. However, a DUI conviction can still be a life-changing event. A defendant could face a lifelong felony, and it may be difficult to find employment. Those charged with DUI manslaughter may also be required to pay restitution to the victim’s family. Restitution is an offset for the financial loss the family has incurred because of the death of their loved one. It can also be ordered as part of a criminal sentencing hearing.
The DUI crime of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is also a felony. A drunk driver can be convicted of this crime if they are found to have been driving with gross negligence. This can involve reckless driving, like driving too fast on the wrong side of the road or driving on a sidewalk to avoid traffic. The charge can be reduced if you show that the driver was not at fault for the accident.
The charge of second-degree murder is a little more complicated. It is more likely to be charged if the driver had a previous DUI conviction. If the DUI was extreme and caused the death of another person, it can be charged as second-degree murder. Second-degree murder charges may involve a sentence of 16 years to life in prison.
The charge of involuntary manslaughter is also more common than the charge of second-degree murder. This is because DUI convictions are typically prosecuted aggressively. Depending on the state, the penalty for involuntary manslaughter may be a fine or a jail sentence.