A fatal car accident is always tragic, no matter how it occurs. Someone has lost their life and family and friends have lost a loved one. There is no way to quickly move forward from being involved in such a crash. To make matters worse, if you are being blamed for the collision, you face more than scorn and guilt. You could be charged with a crime based on Ohio law. If the police believe you were intoxicated at the time, the offense may be harsh – aggravated vehicular homicide.
While you are trying to come to terms with what happened, you may also need to deal with defending yourself in court. The best thing to do in this situation is to call a Cincinnati DUI lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates at (513) 338-1890. We understand how difficult it is to face accusations of DUI manslaughter and will do everything in our power to protect your rights during the criminal justice process.
DUI manslaughter occurs when an individual causes the death of one or more individuals due to driving while intoxicated from drugs, alcohol, or a combination of substances. This offense is actually known as aggravated vehicular homicide in Ohio, which differs from vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide.
Under statute 2903.06, it is unlawful for any person to operate or participate in operating any vehicle and cause the death of another by:
- Operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Operating a vehicle recklessly
- Recklessly operating a vehicle within a construction zone
If you allegedly cause an accident that led to an individual’s death or the termination of a woman’s pregnancy, and the police find you were intoxicated based on your behavior, having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, or the presence of drugs in your system at the time of the crash, then you may be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide.
Distinguishing DUI Manslaughter From Other Vehicular Crimes
It is important to see the distinction between aggravated vehicle homicide and similar offenses. Vehicular manslaughter sounds the same, however, it encompasses causing the death of another person or unborn child while operating a vehicle and committing a minor misdemeanor or violating a municipal ordinance. Vehicular homicide is when you operate a vehicle negligently or speed within a construction zone and cause the death of another person or unborn child. Neither of these crimes involve being intoxicated at the time of the collision.
Penalties for an Aggravated Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction
When you are charged with aggravated vehicle manslaughter based on an OVI/DUI-related accident, you will face a second-degree felony. If you are convicted, the mandatory prison sentence is two years, though a judge can sentence you to up to eight years in prison. In addition to a prison sentence, you will lose your driver’s license for either a significant period of time or for life.
However, if there are other factors related to the crime, you may be charged with a harsher first-degree felony. For instance, if you were driving on a suspended license at the time of the accident or you have a previous vehicular assault or vehicle homicide conviction, you can be sent to prison for 11 to 15 years and lose your driver’s license for life.
Defending Against DUI Manslaughter
With the help of a Cincinnati DUI lawyer, you can use an aggressive defense to prove your innocence, reduce the charges, or minimize the consequences of a conviction for DUI manslaughter. An experienced attorney like Brad Groene of Luftman, Heck & Associates will defend you against this charge. Depending on the facts of your case, we may attempt to demonstrate that you were not in control of the vehicle or you were not intoxicated at the time of the crash. To disprove the OVI/DUI allegations, we may try to discredit the police officer’s observations, any field sobriety tests administered, or the authenticity and accuracy of a chemical test.
Based on the circumstances of the case, your needs, and your preferences, we can also try to negotiate a plea agreement. Deciding on a plea agreement can be incredibly difficult and we can guide you through your legal options.
Contact a Cincinnati DUI Lawyer Today
If you are currently facing accusations of DUI manslaughter, contact Luftman, Heck & Associates today. It is always best to begin working with a DUI lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. By getting in touch with us quickly, our legal team can immediately begin investigating your accident and building you the strongest defense possible under the law, which may include accident reconstruction, gathering witness statements and other crucial evidence, and hiring a variety of experts.