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Elements of Criminal Offense of DUI Manslaughter

If a driver’s act of drunk driving results in the death of another person, the driver will be charged with some form of homicide. Some states, however, treat the offense as a form of aggravated drunk driving, variously described as inter alia, “vehicular manslaughter”, “manslaughter with a vehicle,” “negligent homicide manslaughter,” or “DUI manslaughter.”

In general, the offense includes three elements:

  1. A death occurs;
  2. The operation of a motor vehicle caused or contributed to the death; and
  3. The defendant was under the influence of alcohol to the extent his normal faculties were impaired, or he had a blood alcohol level at or above the state’s legal limit at the time he was operating the vehicle.

The vehicular manslaughter/homicide statutes generally do not require a showing that the driver was negligent. It is sufficient to establish that the driver was not in possession of his or her faculties at the time of the accident due to the use of intoxicants. However, there must be a connection between the operation of the motor vehicle and the resulting death of the victim. This is known as “causation.”

Copyright 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.


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