Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular manslaughter is a felony which is charged when a person is alleged to be impaired or intoxicated by the use of alcohol or drugs causes the death of another person.

Vehicular manslaughter may also be charged in other instances, such as where the defendant kills another person while driving with hazardous materials.

Prior to the enactment of the Vehicular Manslaughter Statute in 2005, the Police and District Attorney’s Office were required to prove that a drunk driver acted negligently in causing the death of another person.

Now the high threshold of negligence is no longer required.

In 2007 new Vehicular Manslaughter Laws were enacted to increase the penalties even further where the defendant commits Vehicular Manslaughter and Reckless Driving in violation of NYS VTL 1212.

In 2009 additional laws were passed to increase the penalties and jail time for vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter in situations where the victim was a minor (under 16 years old) passenger in the defendant’s vehicle.

The vehicular manslaughter and assault crimes have made it much easier to bring a prosecution where death or serious physical injury have been caused.

A person is guilty of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree if they cause the death of another person and they are:

  1. Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated . . . by alcohol or drugs; or
  2. Operating a vehicle with a gross weight of above 18,000 pounds with flammable, radioactive or explosive materials in the vehicle and the cause of death is related to those materials; or
  3. They operate ATV or snowmobile while intoxicated and cause the death of the other person.

Vehicular manslaughter in the second degree is a Class D felony.

Vehicular manslaughter in the first degree will be charged when a person commits the crime of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree and either:

  1. Commits the crime with BAC of greater than .18%; or
  2. Commits the crime while knowing or having reason to know that his driver’s license has been suspended or revoked; or
  3. Has a previous conviction for DWI within the preceding ten years; or
  4. Causes the death of more than one person; or
  5. Has a previous conviction under the statute or the vehicular assault statute.

Vehicular manslaughter in the first degree is a Class C felony.

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide will be charged if a person engages in reckless driving under New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law and commits the crime of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree and either:

  1. Commits the crime with a BAC of .18% or above; or
  2. Commits the crime while knowing or having reason to know that his or her driver’s license has been suspended or revoked; or
  3. Has a previous conviction for DWI within the preceding ten years; or
  4. Causes the death of more than one person; or
  5. Causes the death of one person and serious physical injury to at least one other person; or
  6. Has a previous conviction under this statute or the vehicular assault statute.

Vehicular manslaughter and aggravated vehicular manslaughter are serious crimes which can and often do lead to long term incarceration.

If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, please contact Stewart A. McMillan immediately at (914) 358-4326 or on his 24 hour cell phone at (917) 538-5016 or e-mail him at samcmillan@mcmplaw.com.

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