DUI Vehicular Homicide
November 15, 2018
Vehicular homicide is a very serious charge in New Jersey, and it can be more complicated if the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). It may result in a conviction if it is proved that the driver caused another person’s fatality by driving their car, truck, or boat in a reckless manner. The victim could be a driver or passenger in another vehicle, a passenger in the at-fault driver’s vehicle, a pedestrian, a motorcyclist, or a bicyclist.
Reckless driving can be defined as willfully driving in a manner that creates substantial risk to other people. This includes having a conscious disregard for them. Therefore, if a driver is under the influence, it is assumed that they are driving recklessly. Other examples of this conscious disregard include using a cellphone while driving, speeding through a red light, or operating a car or boat after not having slept over 24 hours. In these cases, the driver is aware that what they are doing is very dangerous, yet they still make the decision to drive.
Ralph and David’s Law
In July 2017, former Governor Chris Christie signed a bill requiring that drunk drivers convicted of vehicular homicide be given a minimum three-year prison sentence. It led to the creation of a new crime, called third-degree strict liability homicide. Named Ralph and David’s Law, it applies to DUI vehicular homicide cases. Convicted drivers can now face jail time up to five years.
Charges and Penalties
Vehicular homicide cases are all different, and convictions and penalties depend on how the scene unfolded. It is considered a second-degree crime. If convicted, the offender could face five to 10 years behind bars and fines can cost close to $150,000. In some cases, the driver could get parole before the sentence is finished.
Drivers that cause vehicular homicide while performing a DUI or driving with a suspended driver’s license face the same second-degree penalties as above. With the passage of Ralph and David’s Law, however, DUI drivers must serve three years before becoming eligible to apply for parole. They may also lose their license, or have it suspended. The most severe penalties are for aggravated vehicular homicide convictions. For first-degree crimes, defendants can end up facing $200,000 in fines, plus 10 to 20 years in prison.
Proof of DUI
Prosecutors often use blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to show that a defendant was performing a DUI, which can lead to a reckless driving conviction. In New Jersey, if a person operates a vehicle while they have a BAC of 0.08 or more, they will be guilty of a DUI charge. Additional evidence can be obtained from witnesses and expert testimony. Proving that a driver was under the influence of prescription or non-prescription drugs may be more difficult. No matter what the circumstances are, anyone involved in a DUI vehicular homicide should contact a professional criminal defense lawyer.
Haddon Heights DUI Lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gossé Represents Those Accused of DUI Vehicular Homicide
If you have been charged with a DUI vehicular homicide, we can offer experienced, professional representation. You do not have to face vehicular homicide charges on your own. Contact our Haddon Heights DUI lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas J. Gossé today by calling 856-546-6600 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.