What is Vehicular Manslaughter?
Vehicular manslaughter, also called vehicular homicide, is killing a person while speeding, driving while intoxicated, or being reckless. A person could be charged with vehicular manslaughter if they killed another driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bystander with their car. In the State of Georgia, vehicular manslaughter can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.
Vehicular Manslaughter As a Misdemeanor
Second-degree vehicular manslaughter is another name for vehicular manslaughter as a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is less severe than a felony. It’s a minor crime, and the typical punishments are fines of up to $1,000 or up to a year in county jail.
When a person dies due to a vehicle-related traffic law violation, such as speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, failing to yield the right of way, or running a red light, the offense is typically charged as a misdemeanor.
Vehicular Manslaughter As a Felony
This is also referred to as first-degree vehicular homicide or manslaughter. Someone dies from committing a significant vehicle offense like:
- Driving on a revoked license as a “habitual violator” (been convicted of three serious traffic-related crimes within five years)
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
- Reckless driving
- Evading police
- Illegally passing a school bus
- Hit and run accidents
First-degree vehicular manslaughter has substantially harsher penalties than second-degree. It usually entails three to fifteen years in prison and a three-year license suspension. The punishment for a “habitual violator” is five to twenty years in prison.
Proof of Vehicular Manslaughter
There must be evidence that a driver’s actions directly contributed to a fatality for them to be found guilty of vehicular manslaughter. If drunk driving is involved, the results of the defendant’s blood test, video recordings of the accident, and other materials can be gathered with the assistance of an attorney. Your attorney may also use evidence to show the harm the driver’s negligence and illegal activity caused the victim and their family.
Vehicular Manslaughter and Wrongful Death Suits
The convicted motorist may potentially be sued for wrongful death by the accident victim’s family. In Georgia, a wrongful death claim allows surviving family members to be compensated for the entire value of the deceased’s life. The claim may also include lost wages, medical expenses, funeral fees, and pain and suffering damages such as loss of companionship and any suffering the loved one endured before death.
In addition to the criminal penalty for vehicular manslaughter, the guilty motorist would also be liable for any wrongful death reparations awarded by a judge.
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