Manslaughter occurs when someone kills another person with required intent needed for a murder charge. Voluntary manslaughter is a homicide done without planning or deliberation. It happens in the heat of the moment. Involuntary manslaughter is a homicide done without intent and regard for human life. But in California, someone can be charged with a different type of manslaughter: vehicular manslaughter.

What is Vehicular Manslaughter? 

Vehicular manslaughter is an unintentional death that occurs because of a person’s illegal driving. 

How Does California Define Vehicular Manslaughter? 

The state defines this criminal act in two ways: vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter. 

What is Vehicular Manslaughter? 

Vehicular Manslaughter is when a person kills another while driving:

  • With gross negligence
  • In an unlawful manner such as a misdemeanor offense or a traffic infraction, or
  • With the purpose of financial gain 

What’s the Punishment for Vehicular Manslaughter in California?

The state considers the crime a “wobbler.” This means the state can charge an individual with a misdemeanor or felony. The charge depends on the facts of the case. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, it’s one year in jail, fines, and possible restitution. If convicted of the felony charge, it’s two to six years in prison. But it’s up to 10 years in prison if the felonious vehicular manslaughter was done for financial gain. 

What is Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated?

It’s the killing of another while operating a vehicle under while under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol, or DUI. This is also a “wobbler” crime. Punishment for vehicular manslaughter with DUI is four to 10 years in prison for a felony charge and up to one year in jail for a misdemeanor. But up to six years may be added if a surviving victim suffered bodily injury. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Yes. Talk to a California lawyer immediately if you are being investigated or charged with vehicular manslaughter.