If you unintentionally killed somebody while drunk driving, you are likely to be feeling enormous guilt and stress. Most people drink and drive with the idea that it's just a short ride home, and without thinking of potential long-term consequences. It is shocking to find that what might seem like a small mistake can have far-reaching and even fatal ramifications. An experienced Bucks County DUI attorney can explain DUI homicide charges to you, negotiate with prosecutors to get the charges reduced or dismissed, or defend you at trial if needed.Vehicular Homicide in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania there are multiple types of criminal homicide. There are three degrees of murder, all of which require a prosecutor to prove malicious intent. Most DUI homicides are not murder because the defendant usually did not intend to kill anyone. Under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3732, when somebody drives recklessly or with gross negligence that causes the death of another person while violating a Pennsylvania traffic law other than a DUI law, they can be charged with vehicular homicide. This is a felony in the third degree that can be punished by up to seven years in prison and fines of up to $15,000. However, a homicide that occurs while driving under the influence is covered by a separate statute.
75 Pa. Cons. § 3735 provides the definition for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. It specifies that anybody who unintentionally causes somebody else's death as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and who is convicted of violating § 3802 is guilty of a second degree felony if the violation causes the death. The judge must impose a minimum term of 3 years in prison. There is a maximum fine of $25,000 for each death.
If there was more than one death caused by a DUI, the district attorney may bring a separate count of homicide while driving under the influence for each of the deaths. In addition to a fine of $25,000 for each death, consecutive three-year terms of imprisonment must be imposed for each DUI homicide victim. Each term may be up to 10 years. Most DUIs are misdemeanors, but a DUI that causes death is a felony DUI, as is a charge for aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence.Get a Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney on Your Side
Unlike other vehicular homicides, a DUI homicide carries a minimum sentence of 3 years behind bars. Even if you do not have another DUI, this felony charge has serious consequences and can haunt you for the rest of your life. A criminal record can make it difficult for you to get a job or secure housing. You may be aware of these frightening potential outcomes already. Although you may be intimidated and worried, it is important not to give up without consulting a knowledgeable attorney about possible defenses.
Serving residents of Levittown, Bristol, and the surrounding areas, Mr. Kenney can offer clear and honest advice about the charges against you, and can help you determine whether you should take a plea. He can guide you through a criminal trial if need be, working with accident reconstruction and chemical test experts who may be able to testify on your behalf. For a free initial consultation, contact experienced Bucks County DUI lawyer John M. Kenney at (215) 547-3031 or by completing our online form.