Vehicular manslaughter, also known as vehicular homicide, is the killing of a person through illegal driving of a vehicle, such as through drunk driving, speeding, or reckless driving.
A vehicular manslaughter charge can refer to the death of another driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bystander. Even if several drivers are involved in an accident, someone may still be charged with vehicular manslaughter if they acted negligently, carelessly, or recklessly.
Depending on the circumstances, vehicular manslaughter can be either a misdemeanor or a felony charge in the State of Georgia.
Vehicular Manslaughter as a Misdemeanor
Vehicular manslaughter as a misdemeanor is also known as second-degree vehicular manslaughter or homicide.
A misdemeanor is less serious than a felony. It’s considered a minor crime, and the penalties are typically:
- a maximum of $1,000 in fines and/or
- Up to a year in county jail.
Vehicular manslaughter is typically charged as a misdemeanor when some died as a result of the offender committing a traffic offense like running a red light, speeding, driving while distracted, not stopping at a stop sign, or failing to yield the right of way.
Vehicular Manslaughter as a Felony
This is also known as first-degree vehicular manslaughter or homicide. It involves killing someone while committing a serious crime like:
- Drunk driving, driving under the influence, or reckless driving
- Fleeing from police
- Committing a hit-and-run accident
- Driving on a revoked license as a “habitual violator” (someone convicted of three serious traffic-related crimes within five years)
- Illegally passing a school bus
The penalties for first-degree vehicular manslaughter are much more severe than second-degree. Since it’s a felony charge, it typically involves three to 15 years of prison time and license revocation for three years.
If the offender is a “habitual violator,” they will face five to 20 years in prison.
Proof of Vehicular Manslaughter
For a driver to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter, there must be proof that their driving directly caused a death. An attorney can help compile the necessary evidence, such as results of the defendant’s blood test if drunk driving was involved, obtaining video camera footage of the incident, and more. They can also help demonstrate damages the victim and their family suffered as a result of the driver’s negligent and criminal behavior.
Vehicular Manslaughter and Wrongful Death Suits
The family of the person who died in the accident may also bring a wrongful death suit against the convicted driver. In Georgia, loved ones have a right to recover for the full value of the deceased’s life through a wrongful death claim. The claim can include pain and suffering damages like loss of companionship and any pain the loved one experienced before their death, medical bills, funeral costs, and lost wages.
The convicted driver would be responsible for any damages the judge awards a family for wrongful death in addition to the criminal penalties for vehicular manslaughter.
No matter how the vehicular manslaughter crime was committed, a life was lost. If you lost a loved one because of another driver’s actions, John Foy & Associates can help. We take these cases very seriously, and we are committed to helping families with their case so they can focus on the healing process. Schedule a free consultation by calling 404-400-4000 or completing the short form on this page today.