The average sentence for this crime is ten years in most states, but it could climb to 60 years if the drunk driver is found guilty of gross negligence as well.
Unfortunately, many motorists believe that driving after having a couple of drinks is not a major problem. The truth is driving a car while under the influence of alcohol use may lead to fatal consequences for both the driver and other traffic participants.
DUI manslaughter is the criminal charge you will likely have to face if you take the life of another person while drunk driving. This charge remains relevant whether the person losing their life is the driver of another car, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian.
DUI Manslaughter Defined
Manslaughter happens when the reckless or negligent actions of an individual kill somebody. This loss of life can happen with no intent from the perpetrator. When the negligent action includes driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, the term used to describe the crime is DUI manslaughter.
DUI laws can be very different from one jurisdiction to another. So, DUI lawyers are the best law professionals qualified to understand the DUI rules in their jurisdiction.
Also, the law recognizes a difference between ordinary negligence and gross negligence. The type of negligence has an impact on the severity of the penalties.
DUI Manslaughter: Ordinary Negligence
This crime involves ordinary negligence when intoxicated motorists cause an accident because of a brief lapse in focus. For instance, a motorist reading a text on his mobile phone when causing a fatal accident will be charged with DUI manslaughter on ordinary negligence if his or her blood alcohol content is over the legal limit at the time of the accident.
DUI Manslaughter: Gross Negligence
Intoxicated drivers that demonstrate extreme negligence during a fatal accident face harsher punishment. Some examples of gross negligence include traveling at high speeds, driving on the wrong side of the street, and driving on a sidewalk to avoid traffic while also drunk.
Penalties for DUI Manslaughter
A conviction for DUI manslaughter will lead to a prison term in most cases. The length of this term may vary from state to state. Fines, loss of driving privileges, and other consequences are also possible for individuals convicted for killing someone while drunk driving.
Florida is middle of the road among U.S. states regarding the sentences for this crime. People convicted of this crime in the Sunshine State face a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison. The maximum prison term is 15 years. On average, Florida’s DUI manslaughter convictions lead to 10-year prison sentences.
The average sentence is a little less in California. A felony DUI manslaughter in the Golden State carries a maximum six-year prison term. The maximum prison term increases to ten years when gross negligence is added to the list of charges.
Tennessee tries to discourage drunk drivers with some of the nation’s harshest sentences for this crime. Drivers involved in fatal alcohol-related accidents in the state face a minimum of eight years in jail. The maximum jail term for DUI manslaughter in Tennessee is 30 years. The minimum and maximum prison terms increase to 15 and 60 years for drivers with two or more prior DUI convictions.
States like Arizona and North Dakota do not have specific laws to address DUI manslaughter. These states use other statutes to punish wrongdoers.
The Bottom Line
DUI manslaughter is a crime that comes with tragic consequences for everyone involved. Lawmakers across the country are taking a proactive approach to this problem and delivering stiff punishments to individuals who drive after drinking alcohol. The average sentence for this crime is ten years in most states, but it could climb to 60 years if the drunk driver is found guilty of gross negligence as well.