For most normal Americans, one of the low points of life is likely to be getting a Driving While Intoxicated charge from the police. It is an expensive process, it is embarrassing, and it even involves getting a device attached to your car to ensure that you are sober before allowing you to start the vehicle.
However, there is one thing that can make a DWI even worse. That’s when you get involved in a DWI that results in an accident so serious that a death may be involved. When this happens, the stakes for everyone rise dramatically.
It’s More Than Just DWI Now
As with any death outside of a vehicle that is caused without actual intent to harm, a DWI case that causes the death of someone else is a type of “manslaughter.” In this case, it is now classified as “vehicular manslaughter,” and, in addition the stiff fine, there is usually a jail sentence involved. There are three types of charges related to vehicles, each one with increasing severity.
Vehicular Manslaughter In The Second Degree
This is the least “serious” of the three charges. This usually means that while a death was involved, this was a first time offense for both DWI and vehicular manslaughter. It usually also means the actual blood-alcohol content was comparatively low, at 0.08% or slightly higher.
For this first charge, defendants can be fined up to $5000 and serve up to seven years in jail, for committing a “Class D” felony.
Vehicular Manslaughter In The First Degree
This is a more aggravated version of the crime. In this case, the blood-alcohol may be considerably higher, at 0.18%, or there may be multiple deaths involved. This charge may also be laid even if the other conditions aren’t present, because a previous DWI charge is in the driver’s history, or they are illegally behind the wheel at this time, in defiance of their driving suspension.
This is a “Class C” felony, and carries with it a maximum of 15 years in prison, in addition to the fine.
This is the highest level of crime, with up to 25 years in prison, although all the requirements for it are similar to the First Degree Manslaughter charge. This is given to much more serious incidents, or to repeat offenders, and is a “Class B” felony.
If you or a loved one is caught in this type of situation, do not try to navigate the many legal challenges alone. Get an experienced DWI attorney to help you take on the many obstacles that are coming.