"Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated"
in California Law
Penal Code 191.5 PC

California Penal Code 191.5 PC describes the crime of “vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated”—which is referred to as “gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated” if the defendant is accused of acting with gross negligence.1

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is usually charged under the following circumstances:

  1. A defendant drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol, i.e., commits California DUI;
  2. While doing so, s/he commits a California misdemeanor or infraction, or an otherwise lawful act that could cause death;
  3. S/he commits that act with either ordinary negligence or “gross negligence”; and
  4. As a result of that conduct, someone is killed.2

Examples

PC 191.5 vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated / gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated could be charged in the following situations:

  • While driving with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of .08 or greater, a woman drives on the shoulder of a packed freeway to get around a traffic jam and hits a parked car, killing a friend who is riding as a passenger in her car.
  • After consuming methamphetamine, a teenager gets behind the wheel of his car (thus committing California DUI of drugs), drives 20 miles over the speed limit, and runs red lights and stop signs. Eventually he runs over and kills a pedestrian.

Penalties

The penalties for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated depend on whether you acted with gross or ordinary negligence.

If you acted with gross negligence, you will be charged with Penal Code 191.5(a) gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. This offense is a California felony and leads to a sentence in the state prison of four (4), six (6) or ten (10) years.3

But if you acted with only ordinary negligence, you will be charged with Penal Code 191.5(b) ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.4

PC 191.5(b) is a wobbler in California law and can lead to either:

  • misdemeanor penalties (up to one (1) year in county jail), OR
  • felony penalties (sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or four (4) years in prison).5

Your driver's license will also be suspended if you are convicted of either ordinary or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.6

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Legal defenses

There are few experiences more devastating than being involved in a car accident where someone is killed. If you were drinking or doing drugs before the accident, it may be tempting to blame yourself. And of course the authorities will be tempted to blame you too.

But this doesn't mean the accident was your fault—and it definitely doesn't mean you should go to prison for it!

An experienced California DUI defense attorney can help you argue some of the following legal defenses to 191.5 PC charges:

  • You were not actually intoxicated at the time of the accident;
  • You did not act with negligence or gross negligence;
  • Your negligence didn't cause the victim's death, and
  • You were facing a sudden emergency and acted reasonably under the circumstances.

In order to help you better understand California vehicular manslaughter/gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated laws, our California DUI and criminal defense attorneys will address the following:

1. The Legal Definition of Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

1.1. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated Penal Code 191.5(a)
1.2. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated Penal Code 191.5(b)

2. Penalties for Penal Code 191.5

2.1. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated penalties
2.2. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated penalties
2.3. Driver's license suspension

3. Legal Defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated Charges

4. Penal Code 191.5 PC and Related Offenses

4.1. Penal Code 192(c) vehicular manslaughter/gross vehicular manslaughter
4.2. DUI murder/Watson murder

If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on California DUI Laws; Legal Definition of a California Misdemeanor; California Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC Driving with a BAC of .08 or Greater; California DUI of Drugs Laws; Legal Definition of a California Felony; Legal Definition of a Wobbler in California Law; Common Legal Defenses to California Crimes; Legal Definition of a California Infraction; Vehicle Code 23152(a) California's Driving under the Influence Law; California's “Under 21 DUI” Laws; California DUI Breath Testing; Legal Definition of Great Bodily Injury/Harm; How California Juries Work in Criminal Cases; Felony (Formal) Probation in California; Misdemeanor (Summary) Probation in California; Vehicular Manslaughter Under Penal Code 192(c) PC; Vehicle Code 23153 VC DUI Causing Injury; Driving on a Suspended License Under Vehicle Code 14601 VC; California DUI Defenses; How Procedures That Violated California Title 17 Can Affect Your DUI Charges; Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Violations; DUI Murder/”Watson” Murder; and Penal Code 187 PC California's Murder Law.

1. The Legal Definition of Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

The legal definition of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated depends on whether you are charged with

  • gross, or
  • “ordinary”

vehicular manslaughter.

1.1. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated Penal Code 191.5(a)

The California offense of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated has the following “elements of the crime”:

  1. You drove a vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs;
  2. While doing so, you also committed another misdemeanor, California infraction, or otherwise lawful act that might cause death;
  3. You committed that misdemeanor, infraction, or other act with gross negligence; and
  4. Your grossly negligent conduct caused the death of another person.7
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In order to better understand the legal definition of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, let's look more closely into these elements.

Driving intoxicated or under the influence of drugs

You are considered to have driven intoxicated if you either:

Example: Chelsea is a 19-year-old college student. She meets some friends for dinner and a beer at a restaurant. Feeling perfectly sober, she gets in her car to drive home.

On the drive, Chelsea picks up her phone to read a text message that turns out to be extremely interesting. She gets absorbed in the message and runs a stoplight just after it turns red, hitting a car that is turning left. The driver of the other car is killed.

Officers on the scene insist that Chelsea take a DUI breath test, and she agrees. It turns out her BAC is just over 0.05. Because of her age, she can be charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated even though she was well under the normal legal BAC of 0.08.

A misdemeanor, infraction, or lawful act that could cause death

In order to be guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, you must either:

  • Commit a California crime that is not a felony, or
  • Commit a lawful act in a way that is likely to cause death.9

Importantly, the DUI—or DUI of drugs—itself can NOT be the unlawful act/act likely to cause death. In other words, there must be another unlawful act or lawful act that could cause death in addition to the act of driving intoxicated or high.10

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Also, this additional unlawful act does not need to an inherently dangerous crime. But it does need to be an act that's dangerous under the circumstances.11

Example: After drinking and smoking pot, Emilio and his friend Tom get in Emilio's car. Emilio drives onto the freeway. That stretch of freeway has a 55 mph speed limit.

Emilio and Tom soon hit a congested patch on the freeway, where traffic is moving at less than 40 mph. Emilio weaves through lanes rapidly and manages to travel at a speed of 65 mph before he crashes into another vehicle. Tom, who is not wearing his seat belt, is killed instantly.

Emilio had been driving only 10 mph over the posted speed limit—an unlawful act that isn't necessarily dangerous. But in a situation where traffic was moving much more slowly than that, the act was dangerous—and could lead to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges.

Gross negligence

The legal definition of “gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated” centers around the concept of gross negligence. If the prosecutor cannot show that you acted with gross negligence, then you may only be guilty of ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.12

Gross negligence occurs only when:

  1. A person acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury, AND
  2. A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk.13

Gross negligence needs to be more than ordinary carelessness or error in judgment. It is only gross negligence if the person acts markedly differently from how an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation—and if his/her act indicates a real disregard for human life.14

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BUT the combination of driving under the influence and violating a traffic law is not, by itself, enough to add up to gross negligence. California juries in gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated cases are asked to also consider other aspects of the defendant's conduct, including his/her level of intoxication and how s/he was driving.15

Example: After drinking heavily at a party, John and two friends get into John's car. John starts driving on a two-lane country road.

John is speeding and keeps veering out of his lane and crossing the double yellow line. Then, at a blind curve on a downgrade, John crosses the double yellow line on purpose to pass three cars, while going 10 miles over the speed limit. He hits an oncoming vehicle, killing one of his passengers.

John's actions indicate the kind of disregard for human life and consequences that could be called gross negligence—and support gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges.16

Causing the death of another person

Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges will only stick if your grossly negligent conduct actually causes another person's death.17

This means that the death must be a direct, natural, and probable consequence of your conduct.18

Your actions do need to be the only cause of death, though—as long as they are one “substantial factor” causing it.19

Example: Aaron has a few beers and smokes some pot at a friend's house before driving home. On the way home, he remembers he forgot his phone at his friend's house. He is stopped at a red light and makes an illegal U-turn immediately after the light turns green.

Unfortunately a pedestrian is crossing the street illegally just as Aaron makes his turn. He strikes the pedestrian, knocking her down and injuring her. Another car then strikes the pedestrian a second time, killing her.

Aaron may be criminally liable for Penal Code 191.5 vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated because his actions were a factor in the pedestrian's death—even though her own negligence and the second car also played a role.

1.2. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated Penal Code 191.5(b)

The elements of ordinary (non-gross) vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated are set out in Penal Code section 191.5(b).20 They are identical to the elements of PC 191.5(a) gross vehicular manslaughter—except that you only need to have acted with ordinary (not gross) negligence.21

Negligence

Ordinary negligence means that you failed to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to someone else. You behave negligently when you either:

  • Do something a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation, or
  • Fail to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation.22

Example: After drinking three cocktails on an empty stomach at an office party, Rachel gets in her car to drive home. She starts to think maybe she is too tipsy to be driving and becomes anxious to get home.

Rachel arrives at an intersection just as the stoplight is turning red and quickly makes a right turn on the red, without coming to a full stop first. She hits a pedestrian who had been running across the road in order to beat the light. The pedestrian dies a few days later in the hospital.

If Rachel is charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, it is likely to be only with ordinary negligence—her behavior probably does not rise to the level of gross negligence.

2. Penalties for Penal Code 191.5

The penalties, punishment and sentencing for PC 191.5 are different for gross vs. ordinary-negligence vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

2.1. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated penalties

Penal Code 191.5(a) gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a California felony.

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The potential penalties consist of:

  1. Felony (formal) probation ,
  2. Imprisonment in the California state prison for four (4), six (6), or ten (10) years, and/or
  3. A fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).23

BUT you face a tougher sentence if you have one or more prior convictions of any of the following offenses:

  1. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (gross or ordinary),
  2. Gross (but not ordinary) vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code 192(c) PC,
  3. Penal Code 192.5(a) or (b) vehicular manslaughter while operating a boat,
  4. Vehicle Code 23152 VC DUI, or
  5. Vehicle Code 23153 VC DUI causing injury.24

If you have a prior conviction for any of these offenses, then you face a state prison sentence of fifteen (15) years to life!25

2.2. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated penalties

Ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under Penal Code 191.5(b) is what is known as a “wobbler.”26 This means that it may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on

  • the circumstances of the offense, and
  • your criminal history.27

If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties are:

  1. Misdemeanor (summary) probation ,
  2. Up to one (1) year in county jail, and/or
  3. A fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).28

But if the offense is charged as a felony, then you could face:

  1. Felony (formal) probation,
  2. Sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or four (4) years in prison, and/or
  3. A fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).29
2.3. Driver's license suspension

Loss of your driving privileges is another harsh penalty for violating Penal Code 191.5.

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If you are convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, then the California DMV will revoke your driver's license for a period of at least three (3) years.30

And even a conviction of ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated will lead to a one (1)-year driver's license suspension—but only if it is charged and convicted as a felony, not a misdemeanor.31

If you drive during the period when your license is revoked, you will then face additional charges for driving on a suspended license under Vehicle Code 14601 VC.32

3. Legal Defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated Charges

You probably know that the law enforcement system—and public opinion—come down very hard on drinking and driving. When a fatal accident happens and alcohol or drugs may have been involved, everyone is quick to point fingers.

Accident_emergencyvehicles

But the situation is not hopeless. An experienced DUI and criminal defense lawyer can help you try to get these charges dismissed or reduced. Potential legal defenses to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated laws include:

You were not actually intoxicated at the time of the accident

You and your attorney can use typical California DUI defenses to challenge the assertion that you intoxicated when the accident occurred. For example, you can

  • Attack the evidence that you appeared to be under the influence—fatigue, illness, or just the shock of an accident can all mimic the symptoms of being drunk or high;
  • Challenge the validity of your blood or breath test results (for example, your DUI blood or breath testing procedures may have violated California Title 17); and/or
  • Question the police procedures used in your DUI arrest and investigation in an effort to uncover police misconduct or other unlawful actions.

You did not act with negligence or gross negligence

Driving a vehicle requires all of us to make quick decisions—and it can be hard to argue that these decisions, even if they ultimately turn out to be bad ones, were so bad as to be grossly negligent.

If you are face gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges, you and your attorney may be able to successfully argue that your behavior was merely negligent—not grossly so. This can radically reduce your potential penalties.

And even if you are charged with ordinary-negligence PC 191.5, you may be able to argue that your driving was not different from that of any reasonably careful person—and thus that you weren't negligent at all.

Your negligence didn't cause the victim's death

According to Bakersfield criminal and DUI defense attorney John Murray33:

“Sorting out cause and effect in situations involving auto accidents is challenging. Even if you drove with negligence or gross negligence and someone ended up dead, there is a chance the prosecution cannot prove that it was your negligence—rather than, say, the negligence of the victim or a third party, or other forces beyond your control—that caused the death.”

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An experienced criminal defense attorney will know how to challenge the prosecution's account of what happened, often with the help of accident reconstruction expert witnesses.

You faced a sudden emergency and acted reasonably under the circumstances

California vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated law says that a defendant is only required to use the same care and judgment in an emergency that an ordinarily careful person would use in the same situation.34

If s/he did so, then s/he was not negligent or grossly negligent.35

Example: Peter is driving home from a boozy dinner on the freeway on a foggy night. One of his headlight bulbs burns out. Terrified by the poor visibility, Peter drives below the freeway minimum speed. The result is that another car rear-ends him going much faster—and a passenger in that car is killed.

Peter may be able to fight Penal Code 191.5 charges by arguing that the emergency—his headlight going out in a fog—justified his actions.

4. Penal Code 191.5 PC and Related Offenses

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated may be or replaced by certain related California crimes. These include:

4.1. Penal Code 192(c) vehicular manslaughter/gross vehicular manslaughter

Penal Code 192(c) vehicular manslaughter/gross vehicular manslaughter is basically identical to PC 191.5, with one major difference: Penal Code 192(c) does not require that you be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the accident occurred.36

Smashed_fender

For this reason, your defense attorney may try to get your charges reduced from Penal Code 191.5 to Penal Code 192(c) if the evidence that you were intoxicated at the time of the accident is weak.

Gross vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code 192(c) is a wobbler, with a maximum felony jail sentence of six (6) years—and the possibility of being tried only as a misdemeanor.37

And Penal Code 192(c) without gross negligence is a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of one (1) year in county jail and no required suspension of your driver's license.38

4.2. DUI murder/Watson murder

The most egregious cases involving DUI-related deaths are prosecuted as murder rather than vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Specifically, California prosecutors may charge you with DUI murder/”Watson” murder if you kill another person while driving under the influence, and both of the following are true:

  1. You are a repeat DUI offender, and
  2. You either have been educated about the dangers of DUI, or were given something known as a “Watson advisement” at the time of a prior DUI conviction.39

A “Watson advisement” is a warning that it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and that killing someone while DUI can lead to murder charges.

Watson murder in California is prosecuted under Penal Code 187, California's murder law.

Call us for help…

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For questions about Penal Code 191.5 PC vehicular manslaughter/gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or to discuss your case confidentially with one of our California criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

We have local criminal law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

For more information on DUI causing injury or death in Nevada, please see our page on DUI causing injury or death in Nevada.

Legal References:



1 Penal Code 191.5 PC – Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. (“(a) Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence. (b) Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, but without gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence. (c)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (d), gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of subdivision (a) is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years. (2) Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of subdivision (b) is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or four years. (d) A person convicted of violating subdivision (a) who has one or more prior convictions of this section or of paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 192,subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 192.5 of this code, or of violating Section 23152 punishable under Sections 23540, 23542, 23546, 23548, 23550, or 23552 of, or convicted of Section 23153 of, the Vehicle Code, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 15 years to life. Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 2930) of Chapter 7 of Title 1 of Part 3 shall apply to reduce the term imposed pursuant to this subdivision. (e) This section shall not be construed as prohibiting or precluding a charge of murder under Section 188 upon facts exhibiting wantonness and a conscious disregard for life to support a finding of implied malice, or upon facts showing malice consistent with the holding of the California Supreme Court in People v. Watson, 30 Cal. 3d 290. (f) This section shall not be construed as making any homicide in the driving of a vehicle or the operation of a vessel punishable which is not a proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, or of the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner.”)

2 Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (“CALCRIM”) 590 Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Pen. Code, § 191.5(a)). (“The defendant is charged [in Count ] with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated [in violation of Penal Code section 191.5(a)]. To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that: 1 The defendant (drove under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug]/drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher/drove under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug] when under the age of 21/drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 or higher when under the age of 21); 2 While driving that vehicle under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug], the defendant also committed (a/an) (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]/ [or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death); 3 The defendant committed the (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]/ [or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death) with gross negligence; AND 4 The defendant's grossly negligent conduct caused the death of another person.”)

See also CALCRIM 591 – Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated—Ordinary Negligence (Pen. Code, § 191.5(b)). (“<If vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated—ordinary negligence is a charged offense, give alternative A; if this instruction is being given as a lesser included offense, give alternative B.> <Introductory Sentence: Alternative A—Charged Offense> [The defendant is charged [in Count ] with vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence while intoxicated [in violation of Penal Code section 191.5(b)].] <Introductory Sentence: Alternative B—Lesser Included Offense> [Vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence while intoxicated is a lesser crime than the charged crime of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.] To prove that the defendant is guilty of vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence while intoxicated, the People must prove that: 1 The defendant (drove under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/[or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug]/drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher/ drove under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug] when under the age of 21/drove while having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 or higher when under the age of 21/operated a vessel under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or a combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug]/operated a vessel while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher); 2 While (driving that vehicle/operating that vessel) under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug], the defendant also committed (a/an) (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]/[or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death); 3 The defendant committed the (misdemeanor[,]/ [or] infraction[,]/[or] otherwise lawful act that might cause death) with ordinary negligence; AND 4 The defendant's negligent conduct caused the death of another person.”)

3 Penal Code 191.5 PC – Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, endnote 1, above.

4 See same.

5 See same.

6 Vehicle Code 13350 VC – Required revocation; affidavit of understanding; reinstatement. (“(a) The department immediately shall revoke the privilege of a person to drive a motor vehicle upon receipt of a duly certified abstract of the record of a court showing that the person has been convicted of any of the following crimes or offenses: . . . (3) Reckless driving causing bodily injury. (b) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23546, 23550, or23550.5, or a violation of Section 23153 punishable under Section 23550.5 or 23566, including a violation of subdivision (b) of Section 191.5 of the Penal Code [ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated] as provided in Section 193.7 of that code, the court shall, at the time of surrender of the driver's license or temporary permit, require the defendant to sign an affidavit in a form provided by the department acknowledging his or her understanding of the revocation required by paragraph (5), (6), or (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352, and an acknowledgment of his or her designation as a habitual traffic offender. A copy of this affidavit shall be transmitted, with the license or temporary permit, to the department within the prescribed 10 days. (c) The department shall not reinstate the privilege revoked under subdivision (a) until the expiration of one year after the date of revocation and until the person whose privilege was revoked gives proof of financial responsibility as defined in Section 16430.”)

See also Vehicle Code 13350.5 VC – Conviction of vehicular manslaughter for driving under influence or influence of alcohol and drugs causing bodily injury as conviction of § 23153. (“Notwithstanding Section 13350, for the purposes of this article, conviction of a violation of subdivision (b) of Section 191.5 of the Penal Code [ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated] is a conviction of a violation of Section 23153.”)

See also Vehicle Code 13351 VC – Required revocation; conviction of manslaughter, three or more violations of §§ 20001, 20002, 23103, 23104 or 23105, or Penal Code §§ 191.5, 192.5, or 2800.3; reinstatement. (“(a) The department immediately shall revoke the privilege of a person to drive a motor vehicle upon receipt of a duly certified abstract of the record of a court showing that the person has been convicted of any of the following crimes or offenses: (1) Manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle, except when convicted under paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 of the Penal Code. (2) Conviction of three or more violations of Section 20001, 20002, 23103,23104, or 23105 within a period of 12 months from the time of the first offense to the third or subsequent offense, or a combination of three or more convictions of violations within the same period. (3) Violation of subdivision (a) of Section 191.5 [gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated] or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of the Penal Code or of Section 2800.3 causing serious bodily injury resulting in a serious impairment of physical condition, including, but not limited to, loss of consciousness, concussion, serious bone fracture, protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ, and serious disfigurement. (b) The department shall not reinstate the privilege revoked under subdivision (a) until the expiration of three years after the date of revocation and until the person whose privilege was revoked gives proof of financial responsibility, as defined in Section 16430.”)

7 CALCRIM 590 – Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Pen. Code, § 191.5(a)). endnote 2, above.

8 See same.

9 See same.

10 People v. Soledad (1987) 190 Cal.App.3d 74, 82. (““[T]he trial court erroneously omitted the ‘unlawful act' element of vehicular manslaughter [while intoxicated] when instructing in … [the elements] by referring to Vehicle Code section 23152 rather than another ‘unlawful act' as required by the statute [Penal Code 191.5 PC].”)

11 People v. Wells (1996) 12 Cal.4th 979, 982. (“[T]he offense which constitutes the ‘unlawful act' need not be an inherently dangerous misdemeanor or infraction. Rather, to be an ‘unlawful act' within the meaning of section 192(c)(1) [vehicular manslaughter statute; also applies to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated], the offense must be dangerous under the circumstances of its commission. An unlawful act committed with gross negligence would necessarily be so.”)

12 Penal Code 191.5 PC – Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, endnote 1, above.

13 CALCRIM 590 – Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Pen. Code, § 191.5(a)). (“Gross negligence involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. A person acts with gross negligence when: 1 He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury; AND 2 A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk. In other words, a person acts with gross negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from how an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act.”)

14 See same.

15 CALCRIM 590 – Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Pen. Code, § 191.5(a)). (“The combination of driving a vehicle while under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [and/or] a drug) and violating a traffic law is not enough by itself to establish gross negligence. In evaluating whether the defendant acted with gross negligence, consider the level of the defendant's intoxication, if any; the way the defendant drove; and any other relevant aspects of the defendant's conduct.”)

16 Based on the facts of People v. Bennett (1991) 54 Cal.3d 1032.

17 CALCRIM 590 – Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Pen. Code, § 191.5(a)), endnote 2, above.

18 CALCRIM 590 – Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Pen. Code, § 191.5(a)). (“[An act causes death if the death is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the death would not have happened without the act. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence.]”)

19 See same. (“[There may be more than one cause of death. An act causes death only if it is a substantial factor in causing the death. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it does not need to be the only factor that causes the death.]”)

20 Penal Code 191.5 PC – Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, endnote 1, above.

21 CALCRIM 591 – Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated—Ordinary Negligence (Pen. Code, § 191.5(b)), endnote 2, above.

22 CALCRIM 591 – Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated—Ordinary Negligence (Pen. Code, § 191.5(b)). (“Ordinary negligence[, on the other hand,] is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to oneself or someone else. A person is negligent if he or she (does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation/ [or] fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation).”)

23 Penal Code 191.5 PC – Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, endnote 1, above.

24 See same.

25 See same.

26 See same.

27 See same.

28 See same.

29 See same. See also Penal Code 19 PC -- Punishment for misdemeanor; punishment not otherwise prescribed. ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.")

30 Vehicle Code 13351 VC – Required revocation; conviction of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. (“(a) The department immediately shall revoke the privilege of a person to drive a motor vehicle upon receipt of a duly certified abstract of the record of a court showing that the person has been convicted of any of the following crimes or offenses: . . . (3) Violation of subdivision (a) of Section 191.5 or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of the Penal Code or of Section 2800.3 causing serious bodily injury resulting in a serious impairment of physical condition, including, but not limited to, loss of consciousness, concussion, serious bone fracture, protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ, and serious disfigurement. (b) The department shall not reinstate the privilege revoked under subdivision (a) until the expiration of three years after the date of revocation and until the person whose privilege was revoked gives proof of financial responsibility, as defined in Section 16430.”)

31 Vehicle Code 13350 VC – Required revocation; affidavit of understanding; reinstatement. (“(a) The department immediately shall revoke the privilege of a person to drive a motor vehicle upon receipt of a duly certified abstract of the record of a court showing that the person has been convicted of any of the following crimes or offenses: (1) Failure of the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to a person to stop or otherwise comply with Section 20001. (2) A felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used [including felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with ordinary negligence] , except as provided in Section 13351, 13352, or13357. (3) Reckless driving causing bodily injury. (b) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23546, 23550, or23550.5, or a violation of Section 23153 punishable under Section 23550.5 or 23566, including a violation of subdivision (b) of Section 191.5 of the Penal Code [vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated] as provided in Section 193.7 of that code, the court shall, at the time of surrender of the driver's license or temporary permit, require the defendant to sign an affidavit in a form provided by the department acknowledging his or her understanding of the revocation required by paragraph (5), (6), or (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352, and an acknowledgment of his or her designation as a habitual traffic offender. A copy of this affidavit shall be transmitted, with the license or temporary permit, to the department within the prescribed 10 days. (c) The department shall not reinstate the privilege revoked under subdivision (a) until the expiration of one year after the date of revocation and until the person whose privilege was revoked gives proof of financial responsibility as defined in Section 16430.”)

32 Vehicle Code 14601.1 VC - Driving when privilege revoked or suspended for other reasons [including vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated conviction]. ("(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle when his or her driving privilege is suspended or revoked for any reason other than those listed in Section 14601, 14601.2, or 14601.5, if the person so driving has knowledge of the suspension or revocation. Knowledge shall be conclusively presumed if mailed notice has been given by the department to the person pursuant to Section 13106. The presumption established by this subdivision is a presumption affecting the burden of proof.")

33 Bakersfield criminal and DUI defense attorney John Murray has earned a statewide reputation for representing DUI and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated defendants throughout Orange and Los Angeles Counties. He is equally at home in the California criminal courts and at various California DMV hearing locations.

34 CALCRIM 591 – Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated—Ordinary Negligence (Pen. Code, § 191.5(b)). (“[A person facing a sudden and unexpected emergency situation not caused by that person's own negligence is required only to use the same care and judgment that an ordinarily careful person would use in the same situation, even if it appears later that a different course of action would have been safer.]”)

35 See same.

36 Penal Code 192(c) PC – Vehicular manslaughter law [compare to Penal Code 191.5 PC California's vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated law]. (“(c) Vehicular-- (1) Except as provided in subdivision (a) of Section 191.5, driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, and with gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence. (2) Driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, but without gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence. (3) Driving a vehicle in connection with a violation of paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 550, where the vehicular collision or vehicular accident was knowingly caused for financial gain and proximately resulted in the death of any person. This provision shall not be construed to prevent prosecution of a defendant for the crime of murder. This section shall not be construed as making any homicide in the driving of a vehicle punishable that is not a proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, or of the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner. “Gross negligence,” as used in this section, shall not be construed as prohibiting or precluding a charge of murder under Section 188 upon facts exhibiting wantonness and a conscious disregard for life to support a finding of implied malice, or upon facts showing malice, consistent with the holding of the California Supreme Court in People v. Watson, 30 Cal. 3d 290.”)

37 Penal Code 193 PC – Vehicular manslaughter; punishment [compare to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated punishment]. (“(c) Vehicular manslaughter is punishable as follows: (1) A violation of paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 is punishable either by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years. (2) A violation of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year. (3) A violation of paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years.”)

38 See same.

39 See People v. Watson (1981) 30 Cal.3d 290.

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