When Is Reckless Driving Considered Murder?

Reckless driving is a serious offense; the charge is reserved for drivers whose actions demonstrate a blatant disregard for the safety of others. At what point, though, does reckless driving become murder?

What we call murder in layman’s terms is broken down into many different legal classifications. Unless you truly intended to kill or clearly knew that your actions could have killed someone, it is unlikely you would be charged with murder for driving-related offenses. In most situations, you would face a charge of either aggravated vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter in the first or second degree.

Vehicular manslaughter in the second degree implies that while the accident was truly an accident – i.e. you didn’t intend to kill or hurt anyone – it was the result of serious negligence on your part. Common factors include being legally drunk (BAC over 0.08) or impaired by drugs, or if the vehicle contained hazardous chemicals. A conviction for vehicular manslaughter in the second degree means facing up to seven years in prison.

First-degree vehicular manslaughter applies when even more aggravating circumstances come into play. This could include a BAC of 0.18 or more, if more than one person was killed, if you were convicted of drunk driving in last 10 years, or if a minor under the age of 15 was killed. A conviction for vehicular manslaughter in the first degree carries a potential prison sentence of 15 years.  

In cases where multiple serious factors like the ones mentioned above are involved, you could face the more serious charge of aggravated vehicular homicide. One example would be if your blood-alcohol was particularly high – above 0.18 – and you had a past DUI conviction. If convicted, you are looking at up to 25 years in prison.

Compared to vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving is a far less serious charge, but that doesn’t mean you should take it lightly! A conviction for reckless driving can cost you up to $400 in fines and carries five points on your license. This is in addition to a possible sentence of up to 30 days in jail. Plus, your auto insurance rates will undoubtedly go through the roof.

If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving, drunk driving, or any other serious traffic violation in New York, you need to retain a skilled attorney immediately. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who have helped many people in similar circumstances. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

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