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Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated in California

By San Diego Attorney on August 24, 2017

Vehicular manslaughter is the act of killing another person while driving, and it is a serious crime in the State of California. When the driver who killed another person was intoxicated at the time of the accident, it can be punished more severely.

There are two different ways, legally, that this crime is committed. It will depend on how the driver was acting at the time, and his or her criminal history.

Negligent Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

Vehicular manslaughter is treated as negligent behavior when the defendant (the intoxicated driver) did not actively contribute to the crime but acted with carelessness. In these cases, the driver may not have acted extremely recklessly, but simply did not fulfill his duty of care to other drivers on the road.

The penalties for the crime will vary based on whether it is treated as a misdemeanor or a felony, which is left to the prosecution’s discretion. When a negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charge is treated as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $1,000.

When the same charge is treated as a felony, the maximum penalty is up to four years in state prison and a fine up to $10,000. If there were other victims who were seriously injured in addition to the person who was killed, the defendant could have three to six years added to his jail time.

In addition, the defendant’s license will most likely be revoked and he may also have to attend a mandatory substance abuse program or get mandatory treatment.

Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is much more serious. This charge will be leveled if the defendant was acting especially recklessly, such as driving at an extremely high speed, or traveling the wrong way down a one-way street. Because this is a serious crime, so are the penalties that go along with it.

A conviction of this crime typically starts with a penalty of up to ten years in state prison. But if the defendant has any prior vehicular manslaughter convictions, or two or more DUIs already on record, that penalty can be increased to fifteen years in state prison. In addition to that, a fine up to $10,000 may also be levied, the driver’s license will be revoked, and rehabilitation programs may become mandatory.

Are You Accused of Vehicular Manslaughter?

In either type of vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated case, the family of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit, which is a personal injury claim that can hold the at-fault person responsible for paying compensation, regardless of whether or not he or she is found guilty in court.

If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, contact JD Law. Lead attorney James N. Dicks is not only a board-certified criminal defense specialist, but also a former narcotics investigator with the LAPD. When you are facing charges, it is important to speak with someone who has experience with the system. Call Mr. Dicks today at (760) 630-2000 for a free consultation in your case.

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A note from James N. Dicks:

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law.

Currently San Diego Superior Courts are closed but are set to reopen on Tuesday May 26th, 2020 barring any
future orders.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family. Please follow us on Facebook for any future updates.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law.

Los Tribunales Superiores de San Diego están cerrados, pero están programados para reabrir el martes 26 de mayo de 2020, salvo una nueva orden.

No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia. Síganos en Facebook para seguir siendo informado de novedades nuevas.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law. No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia.

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