In Virginia, if you cause the death of someone as an unintended result of something you did, you could be found guilty of manslaughter. If you were operating a motor vehicle and the vehicle caused the death, the charge is vehicular manslaughter. If you happened to be under the influence of narcotics or alcohol at the time of the incident, you still could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
While the outcome of taking another’s life may be an unshakable reality leaving you wrought with guilt and sorrow, you are facing more serious consequences. For a DUI manslaughter charge, Virginia has a minimum penalty of one year in prison. It is a class 5 felony charge and has a maximum fine of $2,500. The cap on a prison term is 10 years unless prosecutors argue that you displayed a completely reckless disregard for the lives of others, perhaps by having a very high blood alcohol level. If this is the case, the maximum prison sentence could span two decades.
The system seems flawed on this point. The more intoxicated you are, the less likely you are to have the ability to assess your limitations and call a cab. That is what is so scary about these types of events; you may wake to a living nightmare, the life you’ve known cut short and you may not even remember the accident.
If you are to find yourself in just such a nightmare, know that you shouldn’t speak until your criminal defense attorney is with you. The guilt you may feel upon hearing law enforcement’s version of events may compel you to an admission of responsibility for charges that do not actually apply to you. Don’t further the tragedy by allowing your own life to end with confusion, fear and guilt.