Driving is a potentially deadly activity, whether you are sober or not, but driving while under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol increases the risk of an accident exponentially. If you were driving while impaired in Santa Barbara and it resulted in a fatal accident, you could be facing extreme, life-long penalties under California state law.
At Aron Law Firm, we are armed with a deep knowledge of California's laws and a keen understanding of the latest trends in DUI vehicular manslaughter defense strategies.
How is DUI Vehicular Manslaughter Penalized in Santa Barbara, California?
In California, if an intoxicated driver causes an accident that leads to the death of another person, they could be charged with either vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. While both crimes come with severe penalties, there is a key difference between the two violations: a presence of gross negligence.
How Does California Define Gross Negligence?
California law has no precise definition of gross negligence, but gross negligence is more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or judgment mistakes. Gross negligence has been described as:
- An extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct by a reasonable person
- Acting in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury
A failure to exercise even that care which a careless person would use
In other words, a person acts with gross negligence when they act with disregard to human life or are indifferent to the consequences of their behavior.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
Impairment and reckless driving is a bad combination that can lead to severe consequences for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Under California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) PC, a person can be convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if the prosecutor can successfully establish that:
- The defendant was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- While driving impaired, the defendant committed an additional misdemeanor, infraction or lawful act that could cause death
- The defendant was grossly negligent when they committed this act
- This grossly negligent conduct resulted in the death of another person
Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a severe felony that can send a defendant in Santa Barbara to state prison for four, six, or ten years. For defendants with two or more prior DUI convictions, the prison sentence can be 15 years to life. If there are surviving victims who suffered great bodily injury, an additional three to six years in prison can also be tacked on to the list of penalties.
Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is counted as a "strike" under California's Three Strikes laws and can be used to exaggerate any penalties for future convictions.
Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
California state law describes the crime of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated as:
“the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where … the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, but without gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence.”
Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without a presence of gross negligence is punishable in Santa Barbara by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or four years.
Legal Defense for a Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated Charge in Santa Barbara
If you or someone you love has been arrested for a DUI that resulted in a fatal accident, remember that the decision you make today when choosing an attorney will affect your lifestyle for years to come. At Aron Law Firm, we will work tirelessly to prove to the court that you are not a danger to society.
Call (805) 618-1768 or complete our contact form today so that we can begin reviewing your situation and discussing your legal options.