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New York Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Lawyer

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious charge under New York’s criminal law.  If someone winds up seriously hurt or killed as a result of the driver’s intoxication, the consequences are even more severe.  Drivers who get into a wreck while intoxicated face potential felony conviction, serious prison time, as well as expensive civil liability.

If you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of a fatal drunk driving accident, you need a seasoned and dedicated criminal defense attorney in your corner as soon as possible.  From their office in Goshen, the New York criminal defense attorneys at Dupée & Monroe, P.C. help people throughout the Hudson Valley and Orange County who have been charged with Vehicular Manslaughter and other driving-related offenses.

Defining Vehicular Manslaughter

In New York, there are three classifications for Vehicular Manslaughter: Second Degree, First Degree, and Aggravated.  All three apply to intoxicated automobile or boat drivers who cause the death of an accident victim due to their intoxication.

Under New York Penal Law Section 125.12, a defendant is guilty of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree if:

  • They drive a motor vehicle (car or boat) while intoxicated, meaning with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher or under the influence of drugs, AND
  • As a result of their actions, they cause the death of another person.

Under New York Penal Law Section 125.13, a person is guilty of Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree when they could be convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree and any of the following is true:

  • They had a BAC of 0.18 or higher;
  • They were driving on a suspended license for alcohol-related offenses;
  • They have a prior DWI conviction from the last 10 years;
  • They caused the death of more than one person; OR
  • They caused the death of a passenger aged 14 or younger.

A defendant can be charged with Aggravated Vehicular Homicide under New York Penal Law Section 125.14 if they were engaging in “reckless driving” and any of the First Degree conditions were met.  Aggravated Vehicular Homicide may also be charged when the defendant has a prior Vehicular Manslaughter or Vehicular Assault conviction or when they cause the death of one person and the serious injury of at least one other person.

Punishment for Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction

Punishment for Vehicular Manslaughter depends on the specific classification charged.  In addition to up to $5,000 in fines, defendants convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter face the following penalties:

Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree is a class D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison.

Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree is a class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a mandatory minimum of one year in jail.

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide is a class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Civil Liability

In addition to serious criminal sanctions, defendants facing vehicular manslaughter charges are likely to deal with concurrent civil liability.  The estate of the victim and the surviving family members can bring civil claims against the alleged at-fault driver, including survivorship and wrongful death claims.  A driver can be found civilly liable on top of their criminal conviction and may be found civilly liable even if they are acquitted of the criminal charges.  Wrongful death defendants can face claims seeking thousands or even millions of dollars.

It is important to keep civil liability in mind when considering how to fight criminal charges, and vice versa, including what admissions or concessions to make in each case.  Talk to your respective civil and criminal defense attorneys to make sure your defenses are coordinated and do not negatively impact one another.

Get Help Fighting Vehicular Manslaughter Charges from Our Hudson Valley Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you have been arrested for and/or charged with vehicular manslaughter under New York state law, contact Dupée & Monroe, P.C., in Goshen. We represent clients charged with vehicular manslaughter and other serious offenses in Orange County and throughout the Hudson Valley.

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