Whenever loss of life occurs in a car accident, there are deep emotions and responses to the tragedy by all who survive, including the families involved as well as the driver who will be criminally charged as responsible for the accident.
A driver charged in a DUI accident resulting in death will likely experience shock, guilt, sadness and fear after the incident. He or she will often need to rely heavily on the steady and strong support of family, healthcare professionals and an experienced legal defense team.
In Kansas, there are three laws in the criminal code under which a driver can be charged and held responsible for the death of another while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Facing this type of charge under any of these laws will require comprehensive defense by a DUI fatal accident attorney who is both experienced and equipped to handle your case through all phases of the legal process.
DUI Causing Death: Charges and Offense
Aggravated Battery While DUI is a recently enacted law that attempts to apply strict liability to DUI injury cases. This may be the prosecutor’s initial charge when injuries are so severe that the victim is in critical care and/or on life support. If charged with aggravated battery while DUI, the prosecution may not have to prove what actually caused the bodily injuries. It might be enough to prove that the driver was impaired and that there was an accident which involved serious bodily harm. Conviction of Aggravated Battery While DUI is a Level 7 Person Felony.
Vehicular Homicide Kansas statute §21-5406 defines vehicular homicide as:
“The killing of a human being committed by the operation of an automobile, airplane, motor boat or other motor vehicle in a manner which creates an unreasonable risk of injury to the person or property of another and which constitutes a material deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would observe under the same circumstances.”
Material deviation from a reasonable standard of care means conduct amounting to more than ordinary negligence, but less than gross negligence. This is the general definition of recklessness. Regardless of this legal gray area in negligence, prosecutors are likely to rely upon proving that the driver was intoxicated in order to meet the “more than ordinary negligence” standard. Vehicular homicide is a Class A Person Misdemeanor.
Involuntary Manslaughter The Kansas statutes define involuntary manslaughter as the taking of a human life in a “reckless” manner or during the act of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is the most severe charge for a DUI causing death; as such, it is classified as a Level 4 Person Felony offense.
DUI Homicide Defenses
There are available defenses to the above charges, and there may be many methods to reduce the charges down to a lesser crime. When loss of life occurs, however, prosecutors are unlikely to offer a favorable plea bargain to the accused. One critical factor that may alter this is if they know and respect the reputation of the criminal defense lawyer.
Your defense attorney needs to have extensive experience in each complex legal area, including negligence, accident reconstruction science, witness testimony, expert testimony, evidentiary rules, blood-alcohol testing science and laws, and all relevant police procedures, forensics and evidence.
It is possible, for example, that some other event preceded the impact, making it unavoidable. In some cases, the driver is only partly negligent. It is also possible to defeat the DUI portion of the case. In this instance, the charges may be reduced to a lesser offense for which there is an opportunity for probation instead of jail.
Any defenses and strategies available will only be identified by the most capable and experienced attorney who is supported by a fully devoted legal team of proven DUI defense advocates.