Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. You must be licensed in order to operate a vehicle on any city street or highway in the country. In most jurisdictions, you must be insured against accidents. There are laws in place in all jurisdictions that determine how you must conduct yourself while driving. You must not drive recklessly and you must not drive while intoxicated. Reckless conduct while driving may cost you your driving privileges. Texting while driving, in most jurisdictions, is now considered reckless conduct. Road rage also falls into this category. You must drive responsibly at all times but even then, accidents will happen. When they do, and there is a death as a result, these are life changing circumstances that the victim’s family and the defendant must endure. If there is any evidence that the defendant was engaging in any form of reckless conduct before the accident occurred, the defendant may be charged with a homicide.
Vehicular homicide is defined as a crime involving the death of a person, not the driver of a motor vehicle, caused by the recklessness or criminal negligence of the driver. Under Ohio Law, vehicular homicide is actually comprised of three separate offenses: (a) aggravated vehicular homicide; (b) vehicular homicide; and (c) vehicular manslaughter. These offenses are distinguished by the driver’s conduct and his state of mind at the time of the accident.
Typical defenses to regular homicide are also available to those accused of vehicular homicide such as the causal connection between the defendant’s conduct at the time of the accident and the victim’s death. There is one exception, however; the defense of “self-defense” is not available in a vehicular homicide case. If convicted, the sentencing guidelines for each of these particular offenses may be substantially different.
Aggravated vehicular homicide may be committed by causing the death of another person while driving recklessly, under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), or committing a speeding offense in a construction zone. A death caused by a defendant while driving under the influence carries a mandatory lifetime suspension of your driver’s license and a prison sentence of up to eight years if convicted. Sentencing guidelines for reckless driving and for committing a speeding offense depends on the specifics of the evidence and the degree of recklessness. Reckless conduct while driving can include such things as driving while intoxicated and texting while driving, displays of road rage, and street racing.
Similarly, a charge of vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter is the result of driving negligently, or committing a speeding offense in a construction zone, thereby causing the death of another individual. Sentencing guidelines for vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter also depend on each specific case.
The defenses to vehicular homicide are more limited than for regular homicide. For instance, there is no room for a claim of self-defense. Some defenses such as causation are still available. To be charged with vehicular homicide, the death of the victim must be directly connected to the conduct of the defendant. Any intervening event that may have occurred between the reckless conduct, the accident and the victim’s death may provide evidence that defendant’s conduct was not the cause of the victim’s death.
Vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter are very serious charges. There are defenses available to you if charged. If you are facing criminal charges in Dayton, please contact the VanNoy Firm online by clicking here, or give us a call at 937-952-5043.
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