The most serious of DUI charges in Louisiana involve DUI accidents that result in death and serious injury. These crimes are vehicular homicide and first degree negligent injury, respectively. If you were driving with a BAC over .08 or if you were impaired by illegal or prescription medication when you caused an accident, you face hefty fines and a lengthy prison sentence.
Vehicular homicide and first degree negligent injury most often pertain to car accidents, but it’s important to remember that operating other vehicles also puts a person at risk of a conviction. Boats, for example, are considered motor vehicles in Louisiana. Thus, boating accidents caused by an intoxicated operator can also result in these serious criminal charges.
Whether the accident resulted in the death of another or serious injuries, you MUST have a highly trained DUI defense attorney on your side to have any chance of defeating the charges. Unlike other crimes, lack of intent to cause harm will not save you from a conviction. Being intoxicated and causing an accident are the only elements that the prosecutor needs to prove. Civil lawsuits against you are also possible; even if you were involved in a DUI accident with no injuries. Our attorneys, James Bates and Robert McMillin, will closely examine your case to find procedural errors and any other defense available to you to help save your freedom.
Vehicular Homicide is defined as a felony under Louisiana Revised Statute 14:32.1 as the killing of a human being caused by the operation of a motor vehicle, while guilty of DWI as defined by the DWI statute. In Louisiana, any blood alcohol level over .08 will be enough to satisfy the intoxication requirement for vehicular homicide.
Driving while under the influence of drugs also allows a person to be arrested for vehicular homicide if a fatal crash occurred. This is true whether the drugs were legal or illegal. When illegal drugs are involved, the presence of any controlled substance in a person’s bloodstream is enough for the impairment requirement. For prescription or OTC drugs, knowingly taking more than the recommended dose or taking the medication and consuming alcohol are typically enough for the State to prove your guilt.
Penalties for Vehicular Homicide are very severe and may result in an extremely long imprisonment of up to 30 years. Punishments include:
- Fine of $2,000 to $15,000
- Imprisonment with or without hard labor for 5 to 30 years, with a minimum served of three years without benefit of parole or suspension
- If the BAC is .15, then five years of the sentence is without benefit of parole or suspension.
- If the driver had a prior DUI conviction, 5 years of jail time will be enforced without the benefit of probation, parole or suspended sentencing
Be advised that the courts are now sentencing on the high end of the prison sentences due to pressure from the prosecution, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and many members of the public.
First Degree Negligent Injury
First Degree Negligent Injury is a felony under Louisiana Revised Statute 14:39.2 and is defined as the causing of a severe injury to a human being, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle, while guilty of DWI, as defined by the DWI statute. Penalties are severe and may result in imprisonment for up to five years.
Penalties for Vehicular Negligent Injuring
- Up to $2,000 in fines fine
- Jail time, with or without hard labor, for up to 5 years
Hit and Run DUI Accidents
Hit and run accidents don’t necessarily come to mind when thinking of DUI car accidents, but alcohol and drug use dramatically increase the penalties if you are found guilty. The punishments include:
- With a misdemeanor hit and run involving drugs or alcohol, there is a fine of $500 and a minimum of 10 days in prison with the potential for up to 6 months in jail.
- If you are arrested for a felony hit and run and are found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the punishment increases to a minimum of 5 years in jail, with or without hard labor, and a maximum of 20 years.
As with the other DUI accidents, your best chance of preserving your freedom and receiving the lesser penalties is to refute the State’s claim that you were intoxicated. Our attorneys have DUI training that most DUI lawyers in Louisiana lack and will do whatever it takes to find your best defense.
Additional Consequences Following a DUI Accident
Victims of serious car crashes and families who lost a loved one are likely to file a civil lawsuit following a DUI. Even DUI minor accidents and a DUI accident without injuries can still result in legal claims being filed against you.
In a civil case, the evidence from your criminal trial and your conviction are likely to be presented as evidence. Thus the judge or jury may be more likely to find you at fault, and you may be responsible for paying a large sum of punitive damages if drugs or alcohol were found in your blood.
In order to save yourself from additional financial consequences following a DUI, consult a criminal defense attorney to find your best defense to your DUI arrest.
Call Bates and McMillin today or complete our contact form to request a free review of your DWI case.