What Happens When Someone Gets Killed in a DUI Accident?
According to the CDC, close to 28 people in the US die every day in vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver or DUI – 1 death every 51 minutes. The total annual cost of crashes related to alcohol is over $44 billion.
In 2015, there were 10,265 deaths caused by alcohol-impaired car accidents, accounting for nearly 29% of all traffic-related fatalities in the country. The same year, there were nearly 1.1 million arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics – that is 1% of the whopping 111 million episodes of alcohol-impaired driving that are self-reported among adults each year in the US.
A DUI accident that causes a fatality has tragic consequences for all parties involved and their families. However, it is the specific factual circumstances that surround the fatality that have an impact on what type of criminal charges are ultimately filed.
Charges You Could Face for a DUI Fatality
Each state has different laws, however, many states have a number of different types of charges that could apply to a DUI that involves a fatality – these charges depend on the circumstances of the accident. These charges might include the following:
- DUI manslaughter
- “Aggravated” DUI
- Vehicular homicide
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Negligent homicide
Some statutes are specific to unlawful killings that are committed by drunk drivers. Although they can be used for DUI cases, other statutes are more generally applicable to all types of homicides. You should consult a Florida DUI attorney when it comes to DUI arrests involving a fatality.
How a DUI Fatality Charge is Different
Unlike many other crimes, DUI, in most cases, is a strict liability offense. This means that the prosecution does not have to prove the defendant’s mental state. In other words, the prosecution can get a conviction by simply proving that the person was driving while he or she was under the influence.
On the other hand, to establish a charge of vehicular manslaughter, the prosecution usually has to show more than just simple or careless negligence. In most cases, it must be proven that the defendant was grossly negligent or reckless.
To get a conviction for DUI murder, a prosecutor generally must convince the judge or the jury that the defendant was driving with a “conscious disregard for human life” or extreme recklessness.
The distinctions between mental states are not always clear. For example, the line that divides extreme recklessness and grossly negligent can be subtle and, in many cases, it is difficult to differentiate gross negligence from simple negligence. However, there are certain factors that a judge or jury might look at in determining the mental state of a defendant, such as:
- The level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and impairment of the defendant
- The defendant’s manner of driving
- Whether the defendant was told by someone that he or she was too drunk to drive
Generally, depending on how egregious the defendant’s conduct was, he or she is more likely to be convicted of a serious charge like murder.
If you have been arrested or charged with driving under the influence, it is important to seek the help of a judicious DUI lawyer. You should keep in mind that a DUI has serious consequences, especially when someone was injured or killed. Get the best DUI attorney to help you in deciding the best course of action to deal with your situation.
If you or a loved one was in a DUI accident resulting in a fatality, you should immediately seek the legal expertise of the Stokes Law Firm. Call us at 727-954-0186 to make an appointment for a free consultation.