Vehicular homicide, in case you were wondering (Pt. 1)

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Bloodied Bratz dolls at the roadside.

There are no winners in vehicular homicide. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Sarah/Flickr)

A car can get you there faster, but it can also kill in an instant. Drunk driving and distracted driving can lead to death on the highway, as can drivers who are otherwise unable to operate a vehicle safely. Whether intentional or not, the unlawful killing of another with a vehicle is called vehicular homicide, and it is serious business in that it is a serious crime. Learn more about vehicular homicide (aka vehicular manslaughter) from a legal standpoint and some of the more famous cases of vehicular homicide in recent history.

Vehicular homicide – What is it?

Generally speaking, vehicular homicide – or “homicide by vehicle” in Georgia – involves the unlawful killing of another via the use of a vehicle. Intent to kill or related malice need not be involved to meet the qualification.

First degree homicide by vehicle is considered a felony, although you should consult with a legal professional in your state for the most accurate information. Such a ruling is generally made when the driver:

  1. Unlawfully meets or overtakes a school bus
  2. Unlawfully fails to stop after a collision
  3. Drives recklessly
  4. Drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  5. Fails to stop/flees law enforcement
  6. Had previously been classified at a habitual violator

The average penalty for first degree vehicular homicide is 3 to 15 years of imprisonment. In the event that the violator is deemed habitual, the average range of punishment increases, 5 to 20 years. In either case, at least one year of the sentence must be served, with the potential for early release after that on good behavior.

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Second degree vehicular manslaughter charges are generally associated with motor vehicle violations resulting in death. Violations for a second degree count might include such incidents as:

  1. Failure to yield to oncoming traffic
  2. Speeding
  3. Driving too slowly unless doing so constitutes reckless driving

A second degree vehicular manslaughter offense is considered a misdemeanor, rather than a felony. Such events are punishable by imprisonment of up to 1 year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Suspension of sentence or probation may be issued at a judge’s discretion.

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