Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated Prosecution
California Penal Code 191.5(b)
If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter while in intoxicated in California, it is important to understand what this crime entails. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich want to share with you what the prosecution needs to prove under Penal Code 191.5(b) in order to convict you of this offense.
How to prove guilt of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
In order to convict you of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under California Penal Code section 191.5(b), the prosecution must prove the following:
- You drove a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol AND
- While driving that vehicle, you also committed an unlawful act (misdemeanor or infraction) or an otherwise lawful act that might cause death AND
- You committed the act with ordinary negligence AND
- Your negligent conduct caused the death of another person
Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
You are considered “under the influence” of alcohol if a breathalyzer test or blood test reveals that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. If you refuse a breathalyzer or blood test, a police officer can still establish that you were under the influence by testifying as to his observations of your appearance or behavior. If narcotics are involved, you are considered under influence if the drugs in your system have impaired your ability to drive a vehicle in a reasonable and ordinary manner. It does not matter whether the drugs are illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter so long as they impaired your ability to drive safely.
Unlawful act or an otherwise lawful act that might cause death
The unlawful act required for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated can be any one of a variety of misdemeanor offenses and infractions under the California Penal Code and Vehicle Code. These offenses range from failing to stop at a stop sign to changing lanes without using your turn signal. If the act itself is completely legal, you can still be convicted of voluntary manslaughter while intoxicated if there is a possibility that the act can cause death.
Ordinary negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent foreseeable harm to yourself or another. You act negligently if you do something that an ordinary reasonable person would not have done in the circumstances, or if you fail to do something that an ordinary reasonable person would have done in the circumstances. Whether your actions were reasonable is a determination made by the jury.
Causation under California Penal Code Section 191.5(b)
An act causes death if it is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the death would not have happened without the act. Although there may be more than one cause of death, if your act is a substantial factor in causing the death, the causation requirement is met and you could be convicted of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
For example: You are driving drunk on a highway and you swerve into the next lane because you passed your exit and need to get over as quickly as possible. There happens to be a car in the lane you are switching to but you don’t see it. In order to avoid colliding with your vehicle, the car veers to the right and hits a motorcycle rider sharing the same highway. He dies on impact. Although your vehicle never made direct contact with the motorcycle rider, your act of swerving into an occupied lane was a substantial factor in causing his death.
Contact an attorney at Wallin & Klarich if you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
If you or someone you know has been charged with vehicular manslaughter while in intoxicated in California, you need to contact an experienced defense attorney who is dedicated to giving you the best representation possible. With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura and Victorville, Wallin & Klarich has successfully represented clients facing charges of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in California for over 40 years. Drawing from extensive experience, our talented defense lawyers will thoroughly review your case and develop an effective defense strategy to win your case.
Call us today at (877) 466-5245 or fill out our intake form. We will be there when you call.