Vehicular homicide laws vary from state to state. However, death is always involved. CLICK HERE if you missed the beginning of this article.
Vehicular homicide, state-by-state
All U.S. states except Alaska, Montana and Arizona currently have vehicular homicide statuses on the books. Depending upon the details of the case, charges of manslaughter and even murder can still be levied in those states. The following states have special exceptions from the typical vehicular homicide laws, a few among many. Again, consult a legal professional in your area if you have questions.
Vehicular homicide – California
Depending upon the degree of recklessness and whether alcohol is involved in the crime, California courts may assess progressively more serious penalties, ranging from vehicular manslaughter all the way up to second degree murder. A murder charge would come only in the most heinous of cases, such as an already convicted DUI offender who drives recklessly while intoxicated and causes the deaths of others.
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Vehicular homicide – Louisiana
In Louisiana, vehicular manslaughter is only applied in events where the driver is impaired by alcohol or another controlled substance. Minimum punishment is a $2,000-plus fine (not to exceed $15,000) and 2 to 30 years in jail.
Vehicular homicide – Minnesota
One of six levels of criminal vehicular operation in the state, Minnesota’s view of vehicular homicide is that the crime causes the death of a person, does not constitute murder or manslaughter and is tied to operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner, or in a negligent matter when intoxicated. Another provision addresses the driver fleeing the scene of an accident, a felony. Finally, vehicular homicide in Minnesota requires a minimum mens rea – intention or knowledge of wrongdoing – on the level of gross negligence.
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Some famous people involved in vehicular homicide
- Former NHL hockey player Craig MacTavish
- Currently NHL hockey player Dany Heatley
- Lane Garrison, actor from TV series “Prison Break”
- Rebecca Gayheart, TV and film actress
Famous vehicular homicide cases, in detail
- 1954: Actress Lynne Baggett serves 50 days in Los Angeles County Jail for a hit-and-run accident that kills a 9-year-old child
- July 18, 1969: U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy pleads guilty and is convicted of leaving the scene of the accident on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass., that claims the life of passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy’s sentence is suspended
- March 7, 1970: Actor Wally Vernon was slain by a hit-and-run driver in Van Nuys, Calif.
- 1973: Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis’ brother is killed by a hit-and-run driver
- Sept. 16, 1989: Famous California kidnapping victim “I Know My Name is Steven” Stayner dies when a car pulls in front of his moving motorcycle. Stayner dies upon impact
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