A drunk driving arrest can be stressful and confusing enough by itself. If police pull you over after you have consumed alcohol, you may have concerns about the potential consequences and how they will affect your future. Even a first-offense OUI conviction can mean high fines, license suspension and possible jail time, among other penalties.
However, if you are involved in an accident after drinking alcohol, you may have many more serious issues to deal with. This can be especially true if someone else dies from injuries in the accident. Depending on the circumstances, police may arrest you for motor vehicle homicide or involuntary manslaughter.
Understanding the charges
Manslaughter charges are different from murder charges in that they do not involve any premeditation or intent to harm someone. However, a manslaughter charge may result if authorities feel that you should have known that your behavior or actions could endanger the lives of others. For example, most people understand the risks of getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, so the court may consider a subsequent accident that results in death to be manslaughter.
To win a conviction for motor vehicle homicide charges, the prosecution must prove the following factors:
- You were driving a vehicle on a public road to which other drivers had access.
- You were operating your vehicle in a reckless manner.
- You were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Your actions resulted in someone else’s death.
The prosecution will not need to show that you intended to harm someone but only that your actions created a strong likelihood that someone would suffer injuries or death.
The penalties and your rights
If you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges following such a tragic event, changes are you feel devastated. You may even believe it is best to plead guilty and accept the outcome. However, a motor vehicle homicide conviction can result in a lengthy jail sentence and a license revocation as long as 15 years. If a Massachusetts court convicts you of involuntary manslaughter, you are facing as many as 20 years in prison and other penalties.
Your family and your future are on the line. As overwhelming as the situation may seem, you have rights to protect. There may be factors related to the case that can cast doubt on your culpability, such as the results of your blood alcohol test. Fighting the charges and the harsh penalties you face is a wise step, and a skilled and aggressive attorney can be a strong advocate for you.