A motor vehicle accident can turn into a tragedy, if a person dies as a result. When this happens, people may be quick to assign fault to the driver that allegedly caused the accident. In some cases, an individual may be charged with a crime in connection to a fatal car crash, especially if it is alleged that the individual was intoxicated when the accident took place.
Under Virginia law, if a motorist drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and due to that condition, unintentionally causes the death of another individual, that motorist can be charged with the crime of involuntary manslaughter. Moreover, a motorist can be charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter, if his or her actions are deemed to be so gross, wanton and culpable that it shows he or she had a reckless disregard of the lives of others.
Aggravated involuntary manslaughter is a felony crime, which, if convicted, has a prison term of one to 20 years, with one year being the mandatory minimum sentence. In addition, one's driver's license may be revoked. In addition, this law does not prevent the state from prosecuting the individual per any other applicable homicide law.
As this shows, what may start as allegations of drunk driving can quickly escalate to more serious criminal charges, if there is a fatality involved. So, if a person in Virginia has a few drinks, gets behind the wheel of a car and causes a fatal accident, they will want to make sure they seek the criminal defense help they need, if they find themselves facing involuntary manslaughter charges.