At Herbert & Lux, we understand that being charged with a DUI or vehicular homicide can be a traumatic experience. Our team of experienced attorneys is here to provide exceptional legal representation and to ensure that your rights are protected. We have a thorough understanding of Tennessee state laws and are committed to helping you understand the charges against you, as well as the possible outcomes of your case.
What Is Vehicular Homicide?
Vehicular homicide is a Class B felony and refers to the act of causing the death of another person due to driving in a manner that puts others at great risk of death or “serious bodily injury.” A conviction for vehicular homicide can result in serious consequences, including a prison sentence, large fines, suspension of license, and other consequences.
Tennessee defines vehicular homicide as causing the death of someone else by driving:
- Driving in a manner that puts another person at the risk of serious physical harm or death.
- Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol in violation of Tennessee's DUI laws.
- Engaging in a street or drag race.
- Driving in a posted construction zone where a state worker loses their life.
Potential Penalties for Vehicular Homicide
A conviction for vehicular homicide can also have a lasting impact on a person’s future, as it will remain on their criminal record. The potential penalties for a vehicular homicide charge depend on the specific circumstances of the case, as well as the type of vehicular homicide charge.
- Vehicular Homicide by Reckless Driving: This refers to vehicular homicide that resulted from driving in a manner that placed others at substantial risk of death or injury. This is a Class C felony in Tennessee and carries a penalty of 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Street or drag racing falls under this category.
- Vehicular Homicide by Intoxication: Vehicular homicide by intoxication is a Class B felony in Tennessee and carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Vehicular Homicide in Construction Zone: Vehicular homicide that occurred in a construction zone is a Class D felony and can result in penalties of 2-12 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Aggravated Intoxication Offenses: If the defendant has any prior convictions of DUI, vehicular assault, or vehicular homicide, then the crime becomes a Class A felony and carries 15-60 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
In addition to a prison sentence, a conviction for vehicular homicide also results in the driver’s license suspension for 3-10 years.
Common Defenses Against Vehicular Homicide Charges
When facing a vehicular homicide charge, it is important to understand the potential defenses available. An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the facts of your case and determine which defense is most appropriate.
Here are some of the most common defense strategies for these case:
- Lack of Intent: If the driver did not act with reckless disregard or intent to cause harm, a conviction for vehicular homicide might not be possible.
- Self-Defense: If a driver acted in self-defense in order to avoid harm to himself or another person, this may be a valid defense to a vehicular homicide charge. In order for this defense to be successful, the driver must have had a reasonable belief that he or she was in imminent danger of harm and acted in a way that was proportional to the perceived threat.
- Misidentification: In some cases, a driver may be wrongly accused and misidentified as the person responsible for the death of another person. In order to raise a misidentification defense, the driver must present evidence that another person was actually responsible for the accident.
- Unavoidable Accident: In some cases, a driver may not have been able to avoid the accident, due to a mechanical failure or another situation out of his or her control. If the driver was not able to take reasonable steps to prevent the accident, a conviction for vehicular homicide may not be possible.
Contact Herbert & Lux for Strong Legal Defense
At Herbert & Lux, our DUI and vehicular homicide lawyers in Nashville, TN understand the seriousness of a vehicular homicide charge. Our team is committed to providing exceptional legal representation and to helping you understand the charges against you, as well as the possible outcomes of your case.