Facing a DUI charge in Virginia is already a frightening ordeal, as it carries serious consequences. However, the stakes increase if you’re arrested for vehicular manslaughter. This crime—defined as causing the death of a person through the unlawful or negligent operation of a vehicle—carries harsh penalties that can change your life forever.
If you or someone you know is in this challenging situation, the first step is to contact an experienced Manassas DUI lawyer at The Wilson Law Firm who can provide guidance and aggressive legal representation.
Vehicular Manslaughter Under Virginia Code § 18.2-36.1
Virginia Code § 18.2-36.1 outlines what constitutes vehicular manslaughter—which is also called involuntary manslaughter in our state—and aggravated vehicular manslaughter when someone is driving under the influence. Here are the key components of this law.
A. Involuntary Manslaughter
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-266, any individual who, due to driving under the influence in violation of Virginia law or any similar local ordinance, unintentionally causes the death of another person can be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Your intoxication must have been the cause of the victim's death for you to be found guilty of this crime.
B. Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter
If your conduct is deemed gross, wanton, and culpable enough to demonstrate a reckless disregard for human life, the crime could be increased to aggravated involuntary manslaughter. This offense carries even more severe consequences than vehicular manslaughter.
In addition, Virginia Code § 18.2-36.1 also clarifies that these provisions don’t prevent prosecution under other homicide statutes. You could still face separate homicide charges in addition to the vehicular manslaughter or aggravated vehicular manslaughter charges.
Punishments You Face If Convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter in Virginia
Involuntary manslaughter and aggravated involuntary manslaughter are Class 5 felonies in our commonwealth. Understanding the potential consequences of a vehicular manslaughter conviction in Virginia is crucial when fighting the charges and making important decisions in your case, like whether to accept a plea bargain. Here are the potential punishments you face.
If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, you can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. The penalty could be increased to a prison term of up to 20 years with a mandatory one-year sentence if the conviction is for aggravated involuntary manslaughter.
The judge could also order you to pay up to $2,500 in fines if you’re found guilty of either of these crimes.
Driver's License Revocation
In addition, your driver's license would be revoked permanently, making it difficult to resume a normal life post-conviction. However, you may be able to get your license reinstated after five years.