Michigan Vehicular Manslaughter Lawyer

If you are accused of causing another person’s death while driving, you should speak with a Michigan vehicular manslaughter lawyer right away. Michigan does not have a “vehicular homicide” or “vehicular manslaughter” statute. Vehicular homicide is a broad description of a type of crime. The name indicates that you unlawfully caused the death of another person through the use of a vehicle. In the past, this was charged as negligent homicide. However, that law was repealed in 2009. Now, you may be charged with:

  • Reckless driving causing death (Michigan Vehicle Code 257.626)
  • Moving violation causing death (Michigan Vehicle Code 257.601d)
  • Operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) causing death (Michigan Vehicle Code 257.625)

To learn more about the crimes you may face if you caused another person’s death while driving, speak with a Lansing traffic lawyer from DeBruin Law PLLC as soon as possible. You can schedule a free and confidential case review by calling (517) 324-4303.

Vehicular Homicide Charges

Vehicular homicide is a felony if you were driving recklessly. To drive recklessly means to operate a vehicle in willful and wanton disregard for the safety of people and property. It is worse than being careless behind the wheel. It is not merely that you were busy, tired, or distracted and did not drive well. When you drive recklessly, you drive in such a way that demonstrates you know you are putting others at risk, and you do not care. Driving recklessly can entail many different actions. You may speed considerably, swerve in and out of your lane, weave between other vehicles, and tailgate.

Penalties for vehicular manslaughter depend on the charge against you. If you operate your vehicle recklessly and you cause the death of another person, then you can be convicted of a felony. You may be sentenced up to 15 years in state prison and fined between $2,500 and $10,000. This is a similar penalty to an involuntary manslaughter conviction in Michigan, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines reaching $7,500.

However, if you commit a moving violation, which does not amount to reckless driving, and you cause the death of another person, you may be convicted of a misdemeanor and punished by up to one year of incarceration and a fine up to $2,000.

Whether or not you are charged with a moving violation causing death or reckless driving causing death depends on the situation. It is crucial to speak with a Michigan vehicular manslaughter lawyer right away. If you accidentally caused another person’s death while driving, and you are charged with a felony for reckless driving causing a person’s death, you want to speak with your attorney about ways to have the charges reduced. If you are charged with only a moving violation causing death, this will be a misdemeanor offense only. If convicted, the potential punishment is far less than for a felony.

Drunk Driving and Vehicular Manslaughter

If you are accused of being impaired due to drugs, alcohol, or both while driving and causing another person’s death, then you may face felony charges. It is essential that you contact a Michigan vehicular manslaughter lawyer as soon as possible.

You can be convicted of an OWI if you were operating a vehicle in a public place, and you were:

  • Under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, an intoxicating substance, or a combination of these.
  • You had an alcohol content of .08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, per 120 liters of breath, or per 67 milliliters of urine.

As you can see, you may be convicted of an OWI if you are over the legal limit. However, you can also be convicted if there is evidence you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs even without being over the legal limit. You can be convicted if you are found impaired due to marijuana, other illegal drugs, prescription medications, or over-the-counter products, like cold medicine.

Under Michigan law, an OWI is a moving violation. However, a prosecutor is likely to see it as far too serious of an offense to charge you with a misdemeanor for a moving violation causing death. Instead, drunk or drugged driving causing another person’s death will be charged under Michigan’s OWI law. It states that anyone who operates a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes the death of another person can be convicted of a felony and punished with up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

When you are charged with OWI manslaughter, if the new charges are within seven years of a previous OWI conviction and you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or more, then you may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Additional Consequences of Vehicular Homicide

If you are convicted of a vehicular homicide offense, you will be imprisoned and forced to pay fines. You may lose your vehicle and your driving privileges for a period. Depending on the circumstances, a vehicular homicide conviction could also result in numerous additional consequences, including:

  • Civil Lawsuit: Following a deadly car accident, you may face a wrongful death lawsuit from the victim’s family or estate. If you are found at fault in a civil court, whether or not you are found guilty in a criminal court, you may be forced to pay a considerable sum to the victim’s family.
  • Higher Auto Insurance: After being convicted of a severe traffic-related offense, you can expect your insurance premiums to increase. Your higher rates may last for years until an insurer believes you are no longer a high-risk driver.
  • Loss of Employment: You may lose your job when you are charged or convicted of a crime, particularly if driving is the primary duty of your employment. Additionally, when you finish your term of incarceration, you may face difficulty finding a new job. Because driving-related offenses cannot be expunged from your record, this mark could tarnish your resume for the rest of your life.
  • Immigration Issues: If you are not a citizen of the U.S., a criminal conviction could impact your immigration status. A conviction can cause your visa to be revoked or your renewable application to be denied. Your application for permanent residency or naturalization may also be rejected.
  • Travel Restrictions: A criminal conviction can make it difficult to travel outside of the country for vacation or work. You may not be able to enter other nations without requesting prior approval.

Let a Michigan Vehicular Manslaughter Lawyer Help

If you’ve been charged with a vehicular homicide offense, call DeBruin Law PLLC right away. There may be multiple ways to defend you against these charges. Your lawyer may present evidence that you did not violate a traffic law, or you were not driving recklessly during the crash. If you are accused of an OWI/DUI, your lawyer may present evidence that you were not impaired while driving or that you were not operating the vehicle. In addition to substantive defenses, there may also be technical defenses your attorney can use to fight the charges.

To discuss how to best defend yourself, contact DeBruin Law PLLC at (517) 324-4303. Our team is highly experienced in fighting traffic violations and criminal charges. We will assist you through the criminal court process with compassion, while vigorously advocating on your behalf. We will fight for the most favorable outcome of your case.