What Are the Consequences of Vehicular Homicide in Minnesota?

Criminal vehicular homicide occurs when someone unintentionally takes another person's life while operating a motor vehicle. It is an offense if the individual who caused the accident was grossly negligent, under the influence, or driving a car with a known safety defect.

In Minnesota, criminal vehicular homicide is a felony. The possible punishments include driver’s license suspension, a fine, and imprisonment. The term of incarceration depends on the person’s criminal history. It’s important to remember that a charge is not a conviction. Avenues may be available to challenge the accusation and seek to avoid or minimize penalties.

If you have been accused of a serious offense in Minneapolis, discuss your case with Brockton D. Hunter P.A. by calling (612) 979-1112 or submitting an online contact form.

What Is Criminal Vehicular Homicide?

Under Minnesota Statutes § 609.2112, criminal vehicular homicide involves causing another person’s death “as a result of operating a motor vehicle.” The offense is distinct from other homicide charges, such as murder, in that the motorist did not intend to take the other individual’s life.

The law provides several ways a person can be charged with criminal vehicular homicide. These include:

  • Operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent way: Gross negligence means that the motorist engaged in dangerous conduct without the slightest amount of care and without considering the risk their actions pose to others or property.
  • Driving negligently while impaired: The individual may have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs while driving. It could also be that they were affected by an intoxicating substance knowing that it could lead to impairment.
  • Operating a vehicle with an unlawful BAC: The motorist commits a violation if they were behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
  • Driving negligently after consuming a Schedule I or II controlled substance: The driver could face accusations if they had any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance in their system at the time of the offense.
  • Leaving the scene of the accident: The driver might have caused the accident and left before fulfilling their lawful duty to exchange information with the other parties involved or render reasonable assistance to anyone who was hurt.
  • Operated a vehicle with a known safety defect: The motorist might have driven after receiving a citation from a law enforcement officer concerning a fault with the car, and the defect was the cause of the accident.

How Many Years of Imprisonment Can You Get for Criminal Vehicular Homicide?

In Minnesota, criminal vehicular homicide is a felony. Generally, it is punishable by a fine of not more than $20,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years. However, the maximum prison term can increase to 15 years if the offense involves driving under the influence and the individual previously committed a qualified driving offense within the past 10 years.

In addition to fines and incarceration, a person convicted of criminal vehicular homicide can have their driver’s license suspended. The suspension period for causing an accident resulting in death is at least 6 years. If the individual has prior qualified driving offenses in the past 10 years, they could lose their driving privileges for at least 10 years.

Can You Fight a Vehicular Homicide Charge?

Pleading guilty to a criminal vehicular homicide charge is not a person’s only option. Depending on the situation, defenses may be available to challenge the allegations.

Possible ways of fighting the charge include:

  • Challenging the chemical test results: A blood or breath analysis might have indicated that the driver had a BAC of 0.08 or more or had an intoxicating or controlled substance in their system. However, several factors could have affected the accuracy of the results.
  • Determining the cause of the accident: The defendant might not have been at fault for the accident.
  • Showing proper use of a prescription: The criminal vehicular homicide statute provides that it is a defense against charges if the driver had taken a controlled substance as prescribed and directed by their physician.

At Brockton D. Hunter P.A., we explore available legal avenues to pursue favorable outcomes for our clients.

Learn how we may be able to assist with your case by contacting our Minneapolis attorneys at (612) 979-1112.