California law strictly prohibits the act of drinking and driving. Many people make the mistake of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol, and it directly violates Penal Code 191.5 PC. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is an act of gross negligence in California, and you will be penalized heavily in a court of law. There is no magic number of drinks any one person can consume before their blood-alcohol level is above the legal limit, which is .08 for most people, .04 for anyone with a commercial driver license, and anything over 0.5 for drivers under the legal drinking age.
Vehicular Manslaughter vs. Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated Penalties
These are not the same crimes in California. California law defines vehicular manslaughter when anyone causes another person to die because of their gross or ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence is defined as any driver who causes an accident while not doing anything illegal in the car. For example, it might be someone who was simply changing the radio station and looked away from the road for a split second.
Gross negligence occurs when the driver who caused the accident was engaged in an illegal activity behind the wheel at the time of the accident. Drinking and driving falls into the gross negligence category. In California, ordinary negligence that results in vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor crime that comes with a penalty of up to one year in jail. A gross negligence vehicular manslaughter charge comes with a penalty of up to six years in prison, and it can be a misdemeanor or a felony charge depending on what the prosecuting attorney prefers.
Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated does not fall into either category in terms of punishment. It’s gross negligence, but it comes with its own set of penalties. It’s called the unlawful killing of another person while intoxicated, and it’s gross negligence. However, it can be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony case depending on the circumstance of the crime.
For example, you can be guilty of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence it can be classified as a misdemeanor crime if you were not intoxicated beyond the legal limit. It can be tried as a felony if you were at or above the legal limit because it’s automatically classified as gross negligence in this light.
If you are guilty of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence, you could face up to one year in jail or 16 months to three years in prison. If you are guilty of gross negligence, you face up to 10 years in prison. You also face additional penalties such as mandatory alcohol rehabilitation courses, loss of your driver’s license, and expensive fines.
Defense Against This Charge
If you are arrested for drinking and driving and someone else died as a result, you must call an attorney right away. This is a serious charge that could cost you as many as 10 years of your life in prison. An attorney works to ensure the police who arrested you did everything correctly from reading you the Miranda Rights to properly testing you for alcohol in your system to properly pulling you over. California law requires a police officer has probable cause to pull you over in the first place, and the entire case could be thrown out if this is not true.
Your attorney can help you defend yourself, and there are many defenses. Your driving might not have directly related to the death of someone else. Your alcohol content could be below the legal limit, which might allow you to face a lesser punishment. You could negotiate a deal that doesn’t require so much time in jail, and your attorney will see if your past criminal record works for or against you.
Call an attorney. You are given the right to contact someone immediately following your arrest. Do not speak to the officer who is arresting you or anyone else other than to request an attorney. You can hire one of your own or use one appointed by the court. It’s your choice, but you should hire an attorney to fight for you in a situation like this.