California's Vehicular Manslaughter Laws
Explained by Criminal Defense Attorneys

A person has a few drinks with dinner and gets in a crash on the way home. Tragically, someone is injured or killed.

The CHP rushes to the conclusion that the party who had been drinking must be at fault. The DA responds by charging very serious crimes: DUI with injury, vehicular manslaughter, sometimes even murder.

If you or a loved one faces this situation, you came to the right place for help. Our criminal defense lawyers are former DUI enforcement officers and former DUI prosecutors. We know firsthand how cops and District Attorneys put vehicular manslaughter cases together. We know how to fight these cases effectively.

The evidence is rarely cut and dry. Often times the accused had been drinking, but really wasn't "drunk" or too impaired to drive. Often times the other driver, or road conditions or weather or external factors are really to blame for the accident. In building defenses like these, we work with some of the leading toxicologists and accident reconstructionists in the country.

With the case properly defended, it may be possible to get the charges reduced or even dismissed.and to avoid jail or prison.

In the article below, our criminal defense attorneys1 explain California's various vehicular manslaughter laws by addressing the following:

1. California Penal Code 192(c) PC Vehicular Manslaughter (Not Involving
Drugs or Alcohol)

1.1. Examples

1.2. Penalties

2. Penal Code 191.5(b) PC California's "Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated" Law

2.1. Legal definitions

2.2. Punishment

3. Penal Code 191.5(a) PC California's "Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
While Intoxicated" Law

3.1. Sentencing

4. Second-Degree DUI
Murder/Watson Murder

4.1. Penalties

5. Vehicle Code 23153 VC
DUI Causing Injury

5.1. Punishment

6. Vehicle Code 23152 VC California's Driving Under the Influence Law

6.1. Sentencing

7. Additional Penalties for
Vehicular Manslaughter

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

1. Penal Code 192(c) PC Vehicular Manslaughter (Not Involving Drugs or Alcohol)

California's vehicular manslaughter laws punish acts of driving that kill another person because the driver

  1. drives in an unlawful way,
  2. drives in a lawful but dangerous way, or
  3. knowingly causes the accident for financial gain (which can also be prosecuted under California's automobile insurance fraud laws).2

1.1. Examples

Prosecutors are likely to charge you with Penal Code 192(c) if, for example, you killed another person while you

  • were speeding,3
  • were texting or talking on your cell phone without the assistance of a hands-free device,4
  • drove into a crosswalk and killed a pedestrian (for example if you were making a right turn and only looked to your left for oncoming cars, neglecting to see the pedestrians crossing on your right),5 or
  • were staging an accident that resulted in an unintentional death.

If there is evidence that you were drinking alcohol or taking drugs.but hadn't consumed enough to make you legally "under the influence".this would be a more appropriate charge than Penal Code 191.5(b) PC California's vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated law.

1.2. Penalties

Penal Code 192(c) vehicular manslaughter is what's known as a "wobbler".  This means district attorneys have the discretion to charge this crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor. They usually decide this based on

  1. the facts of the case, and
  2. your criminal history.

If convicted of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, you face up to one year in a county jail.  If convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter, you face anywhere from two to ten years in the state prison.6

2. Penal Code 191.5(b) PC California's "Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated" Law

If you are suspected of violating California's driving under the influence laws at the time when another person is killed in an accident.an accident that the prosecutor believes is your fault.he/she will likely file Penal Code 191.5(b) charges.

In order to convict you of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, the district attorney must prove:

  1. that you were driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs,
  2. that you negligently committed an unlawful act, or a lawful but dangerous act, in addition to the DUI, and
  3. that your negligence caused the death of another person.7

2.1. Legal definitions

Let's take a closer look at some of these terms and phrases to gain a better understanding of their legal definitions.

Driving under the influence

Before prosecutors can convict you under Penal Code 191.5(b) PC, they must prove that you were driving under the influence.  This is established by showing that you violated

  1. Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC (DUI)
  2. Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC Driving with a .08 or higher blood alcohol concentration,
  3. Vehicle Code 23153 VC California's "DUI causing injury" law, or
  4. Vehicle Code 23140 VC California's "under 21 DUI" law.8

Even though prosecutors must prove that you were DUI, California law prohibits you from being punished for the DUI separately from the vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.  The offenses "merge" for sentencing and, if convicted, you will only be sentenced for the manslaughter charge.9

Negligence

What distinguishes this crime from Penal Code 191.5(a) PC gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (discussed in section 3, below) is the level of culpability necessary to prove each offense.

Penal Code 191.5(b) PC only requires that you act with ordinary negligence.  "Ordinary negligence" is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to oneself or another person.10

You act negligently if you

  1. do something that a "reasonably" careful person would not have done in the same situation, or
  2. fail to do something that a "reasonably" careful person would have done in the same situation.11

Negligence caused the death of another person

As Orange County DUI defense attorney John Murray12 explains, "To say that your negligence caused someone else's death means that your act must have contributed to the death.  You aren't guilty of violating Penal Code 191.5(b) PC California's 'vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated' law if the death is someone else's fault."

Example:  Simon, who is intoxicated and speeding on the freeway, can't brake fast enough to avoid hitting Rick.  Rick loses control of his car, hits the center divider, and dies.  Under these facts, Simon's speeding causes Rick's death, leading to an appropriate Penal Code 191.5(b) PC charge.  But,

If Simon is going the speed limit and can't help but hit Rick after Rick "abruptly cuts in front of him", Simon hasn't caused Rick's death -- Rick has.  Given these facts, Simon's DUI attorney should.at the very least.be able to get the charge reduced to a "simple DUI".

It isn't necessary that your negligence be the only contributing factor to the death.  It is enough if it is a "substantial factor," which means that it is more than a trivial or remote factor.13

2.2 Punishment

Penalties for a Penal Code 192(c) PC vehicular manslaughter conviction can be severe.  The offense is a "wobbler." This means that depending on

  1. the facts of your specific case, and
  2. your criminal history (particularly with respect to your history of prior DUI convictions),

district attorneys could opt to charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony.14

If convicted of Penal Code 191.5(b) PC as a misdemeanor, you face up to a year in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.15

If convicted of this offense as a felony, you face

3. Penal Code 191.5(a) PC California's "Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated" Law

Penal Code 191.5(a) California's "gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated law" is prosecuted in the same way as Penal Code 191.5(b) except that the prosecuting lawyer must prove that you acted with gross negligence.

"Gross" negligence is essentially an "I don't care what happens attitude".17

In one case, a defendant was convicted of Penal Code 191.5(a) California's "gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated" law for driving through a canyon while he was under the influence, speeding, weaving in and out of the lanes, and crossing over the double yellow lines to pass other cars.18

Because you can't violate Penal Code 191.5(a) PC without also necessarily violating Penal Code 191.5(b) PC, the latter is considered a "necessarily included offense" of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.19 So even if prosecutors charge you with PC 191.5(a), a jury could decide to convict you alternatively of the lesser-included offense of PC 191.5(b).

3.1. Sentencing

Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is always a felony.  Depending on the facts of your specific case, you face the following sentence:

  • four, six, or ten years in the California state prison, or
  • fifteen years-to-life in state prison if you have a prior PC 191.5 conviction or two or more prior DUI convictions.20

And if there are any surviving victims who suffered great bodily injury, you face an additional and consecutive three to six-year prison sentence.21

4. Second-Degree DUI/Watson Murder

The most egregious cases involving DUI-related deaths get prosecuted as murder rather than manslaughter.

Prosecuting lawyers may charge you with second-degree murder (otherwise known under California law as DUI murder or "Watson" murder) rather than vehicular manslaughter if you are a repeat DUI offender and kill another person while you are driving under the influence.

This charge is usually reserved for repeat DUI offenders

  1. who have been educated as to the dangers of driving under the influence (that is, those who have attended DUI school), or
  2. who, at the time of a prior conviction, acknowledged what's known as a Watson advisement.22

When a defendant is sentenced on a DUI charge in California, the judge customarily reads him/her the Watson advisement on the record in open court. The Watson admonition states that

  1. it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and
  2. if you kill someone while you are DUI, California prosecutors may charge you with murder.23

What distinguishes a Watson DUI murder from first-degree murder is that there is no allegation that the defendant intended to kill the victim.  Nevertheless, California murder law (Penal Code 187) allows for second-degree murder convictions where the person deliberately commits a dangerous act with knowledge of the danger and a conscious disregard for human life.

4.1. Penalties

If convicted, you face the same penalties that are imposed in connection with second-degree murder.that is, 15-years-to-life in the state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.24

5. Vehicle Code 23153 VC California's "DUI Causing Injury" Law

Vehicle Code 23153 VC California's "DUI causing injury" law penalizes driving under the influence and negligently or recklessly causing another person to suffer an injury.25

This offense is related to California's vehicular manslaughter laws because both could be charged based on the same accident.  Let's say, for example, that you're intoxicated and you cause an accident that kills one person and injures another.  In this scenario, prosecutors could charge you with both offenses.

But if there are only fatalities and no injured victims, you can't be convicted of both Penal Code 191.5(b) PC and DUI causing injury. This is because DUI causing injury is a necessarily included offense of Penal Code 191.5(b) PC.26

5.1. Penalties

A first or second offense of "DUI with injury" is a wobbler, meaning it could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a felony, it carries up to 3 years state prison.

Even as a misdemeanor, a first offense carries a minimum 90 days jail. If the person has a prior DUI-related conviction within 10 years, thus making it a second offense case, the court must impose a minimum 120 days jail.27

If convicted of DUI with injury within ten years of two or more violations of

you face an automatic felony, punishable by two, three, or four years in the state prison and a fine between $1,015 and $5,000.28

6. Vehicle Code 23152 VC California's "Driving Under the Influence" Law

It bears repeating that before prosecutors can convict you of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, they must first prove that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  But suppose you were intoxicated and involved in an accident.but the resulting death was not your fault.

Given these facts, Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b) (California's driving under the influence laws) are the charges that district attorneys would likely file, or that your California DUI defense lawyer would negotiate in connection with a DUI plea bargain.

6.1. Sentencing

Much like a DUI causing injury, the sentence for a violating Vehicle Code 23152 depends on whether it's your first, second, third, or subsequent offense within a ten-year period.  First, second and third offenses are misdemeanors.29 Fourth and subsequent offenses may be filed as felonies.30

If convicted of DUI as a misdemeanor, you face up to 6 months or one-year in a county jail and a fine of between $390 and $1,000, plus court assessments.  If convicted of DUI as a felony, you face 16 months, or two or four years in the state prison and the same potential fine.31

7. Additional Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter

In addition to the types of jail/prison sentences and fines that are listed for all of the above offenses, there are a variety of other sentencing options that a judge may choose to impose.  Some of the most common include (but are not limited to):

  • a California DUI probation sentence (informal for misdemeanors and formal for felonies),
  • victim restitution,
  • possible driver's license restrictions or suspensions,
  • alcohol and/or drug education classes (known as California DUI school) or counseling,
  • possible community service or other community work, and
  • a possible "strike" on your record pursuant to California's three strikes law if you are convicted of one of the following crimes as a felony:
    • vehicular manslaughter (whether alcohol/drug related or not),
    • DUI causing injury, or
    • second-degree DUI murder.32
Call us for help.
Img-call-for-help

If you or loved one is charged with vehicular manslaughter and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

Additionally, our Las Vegas Nevada DUI lawyers are available to answer any questions relating to Nevada's vehicular manslaughter laws.  For more information, we invite you to contact our local attorneys at one of our Nevada law offices, located in Reno and Las Vegas.33

Legal References:

1Our California criminal defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

2California Penal Code 192(c) -- Vehicular manslaughter.  ("Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. It is of three kinds.(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 [also a violation of California's automobile insurance fraud laws]. This provision shall not be construed to prevent prosecution of a defendant for the crime of murder.")

3People v. Wells (1996) 12 Cal.4th 979.

4People v. Martin Burt Kuehl (2010): A Santa Ana jury found Kuehl guilty of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence when he killed a pedestrian while sending a text message.

5People v. Bussel (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th Supp. 1.

6California Penal Code 193 PC -- Manslaughter; 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 [rendering the crime a "wobbler"]. (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.")

7Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instruction -- CALCRIM 591 -- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.  ("To prove that the defendant is guilty of vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence while intoxicated [othwise referred to as Penal Code 191.5(b) California's "vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated" law], 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.")

8California Penal Code 191.5(b) PC -- Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.  ("(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 [California's "under 21 DUI" law], 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.")

9People v. Milham (1984) 159 Cal.App.3d 487, 507.  ("Appellant's final contention is the sentence punishing him consecutively for counts I and II was in violation of Penal Code section 654.FN4 This point is well taken. The People's reliance on In re Hayes (1969) 70 Cal.2d 604, 75 Cal.Rptr. 790, 451 P.2d 430, is inapposite. The court there held that the section 654 prohibition did not lie where the defendant was sentenced separately for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving on a suspended license. The problem created in this case is answered in People v. Young (1964) 224 Cal.App.2d 420, 36 Cal.Rptr. 672, and People v. Rocha (1978) 80 Cal.App.3d 972, 146 Cal.Rptr. 81. Where there is a finding of guilt for both a violation of section 23101 of the Vehicle Code and for vehicular manslaughter in violation of section 192, subdivision 3 of the Penal Code, the application of Penal Code section 654 is invoked. In such a case, the appropriate remedial procedure is to permit the sentence on the greater or more serious offense to stand and to stay execution of the lesser. ( People v. Niles (1964) 227 Cal.App.2d 749, 755-756, 39 Cal.Rptr. 11; People v. Rocha, supra, 80 Cal.App.3d 972, 977, 146 Cal.Rptr. 81.) FN4. Penal Code Section 654 provides as follows:"An act or omission which is made punishable in different ways by different provisions of this code may be punished under either of such provisions, but in no case can it be punished under more than one; an acquittal or conviction and sentence under either one bars a prosecution for the same act or omission under any other."")

10Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instruction -- CALCRIM 591 -- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, endnote 7, above.

11See same.

12Orange County DUI defense attorney John Murray represents clients throughout Orange County, including Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and Westminster.

13People v. Thompson (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 40, 63-64.  ("[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.] [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.]")

14Penal Code 191.5(b) VC California's "vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated" law.  ("(c)(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 in the state prison for 16 months or 2 or 4 years.")  The determination as to whether to file the misdemeanor or felony is primarily based on the facts of the case and on your history of prior DUI convictions.

15See same.

16See same.

See also Penal Code 12022.7 PC California's great bodily injury law.  ("(a) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person other than an accomplice in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for three years. (b) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person other than an accomplice in the commission of a felony or attempted felony which causes the victim to become comatose due to brain injury or to suffer paralysis of a permanent nature, shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for five years. As used in this subdivision, "paralysis" means a major or complete loss of motor function resulting from injury to the nervous system or to a muscular mechanism. (c) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on a person who is 70 years of age or older, other than an accomplice, in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for five years. (d) Any person who personally inflicts great bodily injury on a child under the age of five years in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for four, five, or six years..(f) As used in this section, "great bodily injury" means a significant or substantial physical injury. (g) This section shall not apply to murder or manslaughter or a violation of Section 451 or 452. Subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (d) shall not apply if infliction of great bodily injury is an element of the offense. (h) The court shall impose the additional terms of imprisonment under either subdivision (a), (b), (c), or (d), but may not impose more than one of those terms for the same offense.")

Section "g" says this enhancement doesn't apply to manslaughter charges.  While it's true that you can't receive this penalty for the victim who is killed, you can receive it for any surviving victims per People v. Verlinde (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 1146, 1168.

17CALCRIM 590 -- Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.  ("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 the way 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.")

18People v. Bennett (1991) 54 Cal.3d 1032.

19People v. Verlinde (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 1146, 1165-1166.  ("The Attorney General properly concedes that Verlinde's conviction for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (count 2) must be reversed because it is necessarily included in the greater offense of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. ( People v. Ortega (1998) 19 Cal.4th 686, 692, 80 Cal.Rptr.2d 489, 968 P.2d 48; People v. Oldham (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 1, 16, 96 Cal.Rptr.2d 343.)")

20Penal Code 191.5(a) PC California's gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated law.  ("(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.(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.(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.")

21See Penal Code 12022.7 PC California's great bodily injury law, endnote 16, above.

22People v. Watson (1981), 30 Cal.3d 290.

23The Watson admonition which is on all DUI plea Tahl waiver forms states "I understand that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs my ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, and is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If I continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of my driving, someone is killed, I can be charged [in California] with murder."

24California Penal Code 190 -- Punishment for murder... ("Except as provided in subdivision (b), (c), or (d), every person guilty of murder in the second degree [which includes California second-degree murder (otherwise known as DUI murder or "Watson" murder)] shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 15 years to life.")

California Penal Code 672 -- Offenses for which no fine prescribed; fine authorized in addition to imprisonment. ("Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, in relation to which no fine is herein prescribed [such as a California DUI second degree murder charge], the court may impose a fine on the offender not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors or ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in cases of felonies, in addition to the imprisonment prescribed.")

25California Vehicle Code 23153 VC -- DUI causing injury.  ("(a) It is unlawful for any person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver. (b) It is unlawful for any person, while having 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after driving. (c) In proving the person neglected any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, it is not necessary to prove that any specific section of this code was violated. (d) It is unlawful for any person, while having 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210, and concurrently to do any act forbidden by law or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of performance of a chemical test within three hours after driving. (e) This section shall become operative on January 1, 1992, and shall remain operative until the director determines that federal regulations adopted pursuant to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Act of 1986 (49 U.S.C. Sec. 2701 et seq.) contained in Section 383.51 or 391.15 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations do not require the state to prohibit operation of commercial vehicles when the operator has a concentration of alcohol in his or her blood of 0.04 percent by weight or more. (f) The director shall submit a notice of the determination under subdivision (e) to the Secretary of State, and this section shall be repealed upon the receipt of that notice by the Secretary of State.")

26People v. Miranda (1994) 21 Cal.App.4th 1464, 1468.  ("When the focus of our analysis is directed at Penal Code section 191.5 rather than manslaughter in general, it becomes apparent that Vehicle Code section 23153, subdivision (a) is necessarily included in Penal Code section 191.5 [California's vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated" law]. One person who injures a person while driving under the influence commits a violation of Vehicle Code section 23153; and if that person dies from that injury-whether immediately or sometime later-a violation of Penal Code section 191.5 has occurred.")

27California Vehicle Code 23554 VC -- First offense; punishment.  ("If any person is convicted of a first violation of Section 23153, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550.")

See also California Vehicle Code 23560 VC -- Second offense; punishment.  ("If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23153 and the offense occurred within 10 years of a separate violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153 that resulted in a conviction, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not less than 120 days nor more than one year, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550.")

28California Vehicle Code 23566 VC -- Three or more offenses; punishment.  ("(a) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23153 and the offense occurred within 10 years of two or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5 [California's "wet reckless" law], or Section 23152 or 23153, or any combination of these violations, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of two, three, or four years and by a fine of not less than one thousand fifteen dollars ($1,015) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (8) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. (b) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23153, and the act or neglect proximately causes great bodily injury, as defined in Section 12022.7 of the Penal Code, to any person other than the driver, and the offense occurred within 10 years of two or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23152 or 23153, or any combination of these violations, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of two, three, or four years and by a fine of not less than one thousand fifteen dollars ($1,015) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (8) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. (c) If a person is convicted under subdivision (b), and the offense for which the person is convicted occurred within 10 years of four or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23152 or 23153, or any combination of these violations, that resulted in convictions, that person shall, in addition and consecutive to the sentences imposed under subdivision (b), be punished by an additional term of imprisonment in the state prison for three years. The enhancement allegation provided in this subdivision shall be pleaded and proved as provided by law. (d) A person convicted of Section 23153 punishable under this section shall be designated as a habitual traffic offender for a period of three years, subsequent to the conviction. The person shall be advised of this designation pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 13350. (e) A person confined in state prison under this section shall be ordered by the court to participate in an alcohol or drug program, or both, that is available at the prison during the person's confinement. Completion of an alcohol or drug program under this section does not meet the program completion requirement of paragraph (8) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352, unless the drug or alcohol program is licensed under Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code, or is a program specified in Section 8001 of the Penal Code.")

29California Vehicle Code 23536 VC -- Conviction of first violation of � 23152; punishment.  ("(a) If a person is convicted of a first violation of Section 23152, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 96 hours, at least 48 hours of which shall be continuous, nor more than six months, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390), nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). (b) The court shall order that a person punished under subdivision (a), who is to be punished by imprisonment in the county jail, be imprisoned on days other than days of regular employment of the person, as determined by the court. If the court determines that 48 hours of continuous imprisonment would interfere with the person's work schedule, the court shall allow the person to serve the imprisonment whenever the person is normally scheduled for time off from work. The court may make this determination based upon a representation from the defendant's attorney or upon an affidavit or testimony from the defendant. (c) The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended by the department under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. (d) Whenever, when considering the circumstances taken as a whole, the court determines that the person punished under this section would present a traffic safety or public safety risk if authorized to operate a motor vehicle during the period of suspension imposed under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1, the court may disallow the issuance of a restricted driver's license required under Section 13352.4.")

See also California Vehicle Code 23540 VC -- Second offense; punishment.  ("(a) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of a separate violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, that resulted in a conviction, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended by the department pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. (b) Whenever, when considering the circumstances taken as a whole, the court determines that the person punished under this section would present a traffic safety or public safety risk if authorized to operate a motor vehicle during the period of suspension imposed under paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352, the court may disallow the issuance of a restricted driver's license required under Section 13352.5. (c) This section shall become operative on September 20, 2005.")

See also California Vehicle Code 23546 VC -- Third offense; punishment.  ("(a) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of two separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, 23152, or 23153, or any combination thereof, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 120 days nor more than one year and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles as required in paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender his or her driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. (b) A person convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under this section shall be designated as a habitual traffic offender for a period of three years, subsequent to the conviction. The person shall be advised of this designation pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 13350.")

30California Vehicle Code 23550 VC -- Multiple offenses; punishment.  ("(a) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and the offense occurred within 10 years of three or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23152 or 23153, or any combination thereof, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not less than 180 days nor more than one year, and by a fine of not less than three hundred ninety dollars ($390) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). The person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (9) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver's license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. (b) A person convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under this section shall be designated as a habitual traffic offender for a period of three years, subsequent to the conviction. The person shall be advised of this designation pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 13350.")

31See endnotes 29 and 30, above.

32See endnotes 27-30.

See also California Penal Code 1203.1 -- Probation conditions. ("(j) The court may impose.other reasonable conditions [pursuant to a California probation sentence], as it may determine are fitting and proper to the end that justice may be done, that amends may be made to society for the breach of the law, for any injury done to any person resulting from that breach, and generally and specifically for the reformation and rehabilitation of the probationer.")

See also California Penal Code 1192.7(c) PC.  ("As used in this section [a California] 'serious felony' means. (8) any felony in which the defendant personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person [such as a felony violation of California's vehicular manslaughter laws], other than an accomplice, or any felony in which the defendant personally uses a firearm.")

See also California Penal Code 667 PC -- Habitual criminals; enhancement of sentence; amendment of section (otherwise known as California's Three Strikes Law).  ("(b) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting subdivisions (b) to (i), inclusive, to ensure longer prison sentences and greater punishment for those who commit a felony and have been previously convicted of serious and/or violent felony offenses.(e) For purposes of subdivisions (b) to (i), inclusive, and in addition to any other enhancement or punishment provisions which may apply, the following shall apply where a defendant has a prior felony conviction: (1) If a defendant has one prior felony conviction that has been pled and proved, the determinate term or minimum term for an indeterminate term shall be twice the term otherwise provided as punishment for the current felony conviction. (2)(A) If a defendant has two or more prior felony convictions as defined in subdivision (d) that have been pled and proved, the term for the current felony conviction shall be an indeterminate term of life imprisonment with a minimum term of the indeterminate sentence calculated as the greater of: (i) Three times the term otherwise provided as punishment for each current felony conviction subsequent to the two or more prior felony convictions. (ii) Imprisonment in the [California] state prison for 25 years.")

33Please feel free to contact our Nevada criminal defense attorneys Michael Becker and Mike Castillo for any questions relating to Nevada's vehicular manslaughter laws. Their Nevada law offices are located in Reno and Las Vegas.

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Regain peace of mind...

Our defense attorneys understand that being accused of a crime is one of the most difficult times of your life. Rely on us to zealously and discreetly protect your rights and to fight for the most favorable resolution possible.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California and Nevada. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.