DUI-Related Deaths In New York
The State of New York takes even the most minor DUI and DWI violations quite seriouslyYou can face penalties including fines, alcohol education classes, suspension of your license, an ignition interlock device, and even jail time.
So if you have been charged a drunk driving incident where a pedestrian, passenger, or people in another vehicle were killed, know that this will mean incredibly serious felony charges. You need a knowledgeable New York DUI attorney on your side, preferably one with experience dealing with vehicular manslaughter cases and who knows the laws of New York in and out.
Criminal Charges You Will Face in New York for a DUI Death
Charges for deaths related to New York DUIs generally fall into one of four categories: criminally negligent homicide (a Class E Felony), vehicular manslaughter in the second degree (a Class D Felony), vehicular manslaughter in the first degree (a Class C Felony), and depraved indifference homicide (a Class A Felony).
Which of these you are charged with comes down to a number of different factors:
- the degree of alleged intoxication (which determines where you receive a DWAI, DWI, or Aggravated DUI)
- previous convictions for drunk driving
- whether or not your license was suspended or revoked at the time of the crash
- compounding traffic violations (speeding, failure to yield, crossing the center line)
What the Prosecution Needs to Show to Get a DUI Death Conviction
It used to be that in order to convict you on charges of DWI vehicular homicide manslaughter, the prosecution had to prove that your conduct was reckless or criminally negligent (e.g., you didn’t account for others’ safety), that you could have reasonably foreseen the consequences of your actions, and that you had criminal intent.
However, in November 2005, the law changed so that it is now possible to convict someone for the death of another person in one of these cases on just the allegation of drug use or a high blood alcohol level. What that means is that the DA’s job is now a lot easier. He or she doesn’t even have to show that the death was caused by your conduct, just that you had drugs or alcohol in your system and a death occurred.
How to Fight Charges Related to a DUI Death
With the laws of New York making it so easy for the prosecutor to convict someone simply by showing they were intoxicated at the time they were involved in an accident where someone died, the best way to fight DUI death charges is to disprove or cast doubt on the DWI itself.
For the DUI attorney you hire, this means finding ways to show that you were not actually legally intoxicated, including:
- finding errors the police made in your arrest
- improperly administered field sobriety tests
- incorrect BAC test results (related to malfunctioning equipment, user error, mistakes in calibration, or your own body’s physiology)
- gathering and analyzing physical evidence
The goal should be to poke holes in whatever evidence the prosecution has and show that there are a number of reasons why it could be misleading or altogether false. This can cause evidence the prosecution has to be made inadmissible, and hopefully will eventually cause the prosecution to reduce your charges, prevent a conviction, or even get the charges dismissed altogether.
In cases like this, however, even simply reducing the charges to a straight DWI, reckless driving, or even a lower homicide charge can greatly affect your life by helping you to avoid receiving the harshest prison sentence for criminal vehicular manslaughter.
Don’t play games with your future. If you have been charged with a DUI death, contact an experienced New York DUI attorney today to have the best chance of a positive outcome.