When a fatal traffic accident has occurred, there is usually an extensive investigation that performed to determine the cause of the accident, and subsequently a person(s) death. If the investigating officers determine that one party involved in the traffic accident was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, they will arrest the person suspected to be driving under the influence for vehicular manslaughter whether or not he/she was the direct cause of the accident itself. Vehicular manslaughter is a “wobbler” offense under the California Vehicle Code. As previously discussed, this means that it can be charged by the D.A.’s office at either the misdemeanor or felony level, depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the original accident. The times when vehicular manslaughter cases are charged as misdemeanors are usually when no alcohol was involved, or perhaps if the DUI driver was not at fault for causing the accident.
If the resulting fatality is determined to have been caused by a suspected DUI driver “with gross negligence” (when one is considered to have been driving without caution and concern for the safety of others), it can only be charged as a felony. But a charge of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence (as a felony) cannot be alleged solely due to the fact that a person was driving under the influence of alcohol. Other factors must be determined to have been present. For example, the driver committing other moving violations and/or ignoring the advice of others not to drive would be considered another or other factors.
Felony vehicular manslaughter is a very serious offense and can carry penalties that including state prison time. Thus, it is important to obtain private counsel that is knowledgeable and experienced in these areas of the law. The DUI defense attorneys at the law offices of Avi Zvulun are skilled in defending against them. It is imperative in almost all of these types of cases that additional investigative work be done to assess what really happened. Often the events of the traffic accident, or those leading up to it, happened so fast that no one is ever really 100% sure of who was at fault. Thus, it is important that your defense team bring on a team of investigators, accident re-constructionists, and toxicologists to do an independent analysis of what actually happened and to re-interview all witnesses. It is always best to start this process as soon as possible and while the evidence is still fresh. The sooner our defense investigation begins the better for you!
For a free consultation with LA Attorney Avi Zvulun, call 818.720.5288 or 888.333.2636 Toll Free or contact us online.