Vehicular homicide and vehicular assault are serious felonies that are differentiated by the degree of injury.
Vehicular homicide occurs if a person drove under the influence or drove in a reckless manner and caused the death of another person. It is a class three felony if the person drove under the influence and caused the death. It is a class four felony if the person drove recklessly and caused the death.
Vehicular assault occurs if a person drove under the influence or drove in a reckless manner and caused serious bodily injury to another person. It is a class four felony if the person drove under the influence and caused the injury. It is a class five felony if the person drove recklessly and caused the injury.
Prosecutors usually charge one count of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault for each person who died or was injured as a result of the accident. You can also be charged if the person who died or who was injured was a passenger in your vehicle.
A person drove “under the influence” if he or she was substantially incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. If the underlying basis for a vehicular homicide or vehicular assault charge is a DUI, then the charge is one of strict liability. This means that the driver did not have to intend to cause the death or injury. If the driver was under the influence and his or her driving caused the death or injury that is sufficient evidence to support the charge. Whether the driving caused the death or injury is an important element of the crime. There may be multiple causes for an accident. More than one cause for the accident may provide a defense to these types of charges.
For purposes of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, if a person’s blood alcohol level is less than 0.05, it is presumed the person was not under the influence. If the person’s blood alcohol level was between 0.05 and 0.08, this evidence may be considered along with other evidence to determine whether the person was under the influence, and if a person’s blood alcohol level was 0.08 or greater, then it may be presumed that the person was under the influence.
If a person is suspected of marijuana use within a reasonable time of driving (DUID), then testing will be completed to determine the level of marijuana. If testing shows 5 nanograms or more of active THC, then the person is presumed to be under the influence.
A person drives “recklessly” when his or her driving shows a willful disregard for public safety. Unlike driving under the influence, the law does not provide specifics as to what constitutes reckless driving. Police officers and prosecutors have a lot of discretion when deciding whether a person’s driving meets this definition. This discretion makes it important to have a lawyer who can analyze the particular facts and circumstances of your case. A police officer or prosecutor’s decision may not be the correct the decision.