Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

Los Angeles Vehicular Manslaughter Attorney

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and 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.

This is different from Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated. This specific penal code requires that you were driving under the influence, while driving you also committed another misdemeanor/infraction/lawful act that might cause death, you acted with ordinary negligence, and the negligent conduct caused another person’s death.

Ordinary negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to oneself or someone else.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. A felony conviction is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, 2 years, or 4 years.

You also face fines of up to $10,000 and a driver’s license suspension of up to one year.

Elements

If the prosecutor cannot prove Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated, the common lesser charge would be the Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated with ordinary negligence. The following shows the specific elements and the exact instructions that the jury will read in determining a verdict.

The defendant is charged with vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence while intoxicated in violation of Penal Code section 191.5(b)].

[Vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence while intoxicated is a lesser crime than the charged crime of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.]

To prove that the defendant is guilty of vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence while intoxicated, the People must prove that:

  1. The defendant (drove under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/[or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug]/drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher/ drove under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug] when under the age of 21/drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 or higher when under the age of 21/ operated a vessel under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or a combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug]/operated a vessel while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher);
  2. While (driving that vehicle/operating that vessel) under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug], the defendant also committed (a/an) (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]] /[or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death);
  3. The defendant committed the (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]] /[or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death) with ordinary negligence; AND
  4. The defendant’s negligent conduct caused the death of another person.

*In other words

  1. Driving under the influence
  2. Committing another misdemeanor/infraction/lawful act that might cause death
  3. Committed the act with ordinary negligence
  4. Causing the death of another person.

[The difference between this offense and the charged offense of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the degree of negligence required. I have already defined gross negligence for you.]

Ordinary negligence[, on the other hand,] is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to oneself or someone else. A person is negligent if he or she (does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation/ [or] fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation).

A person facing a sudden and unexpected emergency situation not caused by that person’s own negligence is required only to use the same care and judgment that an ordinarily careful person would use in the same situation, even if it appears later that a different course of action would have been safer.]

Instruction[s] tell[s] you what the People must prove in order to prove that the defendant (drove under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or a combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug]/drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher/ drove under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or a combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug] when under the age of 21/drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 or higher when under the age of 21/ operated a vessel under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug [or a combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug])/operated a vessel while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher).

[An act causes death if the death is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the death would not have happened without the act. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence.]

[There may be more than one cause of death. An act causes death only if it is a substantial factor in causing the death. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it does not need to be the only factor that causes the death.]

[The People allege that the defendant committed the following (misdemeanor[s][,]/ [and] infraction[s][,]/ [and] otherwise lawful act[s] that might cause death): <insert alleged predicate acts when multiple acts alleged>. You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant committed at least one of these alleged (misdemeanors[,]/ [or] infractions[,]/ [or] otherwise lawful acts that might cause death) and you all agree on which (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]/ [or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death) the defendant committed.]

[The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence while intoxicated. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of that crime. You must consider whether the defendant is guilty of the lesser crime[s] of <insert lesser offense[s]>.

If you were arrested for Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated, it’s important to speak with an experienced Los Angeles Vehicular Manslaughter Attorney. At the Law Offices of Nam Q. Doan | OC Legal Defense, I will defend your rights and provide effective representation at an affordable price. Call today at (714) 248-DOAN (3626) for more information.