NRS 484C.130 & 484C.440 - "Vehicular Homicide" in Nevada

Updated


NRS 484C.130 is the Nevada statute that defines the crime vehicular homicide. This involves causing a fatal DUI crash while having at least three prior DUI convictions. This law targets repeat drunk or drugged driving offenders.

Example

Ed has three misdemeanor DUI convictions over the past thirty years. One night he is driving intoxicated on the Strip and hits a pedestrian, who dies. Ed can be charged with vehicular homicide because of the three prior DUIs. It does not matter that these convictions were from a long time ago.

If Ed did not have three prior DUIs, he would instead face charges for the lesser offense of DUI causing death (NRS 484C.430). NRS 484C.130 states that DUI becomes vehicular homicide when a person:

Proximately causes the death of another person while driving ...; and

Has previously been convicted of at least three [DUI] offenses.

Penalties

NRS 484C.440 makes vehicular homicide a category A felony. The sentence is:

But parole is possible after serving 10 years.

The defendant's driver's license will also be revoked for three years.

Defenses

Common arguments for fighting vehicular homicide charges include:

  1. The defendant was not intoxicated,
  2. The defendant was not at fault for the accident, or
  3. The defendant did not have three prior DUI convictions

Below our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:

Driving kneeling in front of victim after crash (NRS 484C.130 & 484C.440)
Vehicular homicide is the most serious DUI crime in Nevada under NRS 484C.130 and 484C.440.

1. What is vehicular homicide in Nevada under NRS 484C.130?

Nevada's legal definition of vehicular homicide is when a person:

  1. Is committing DUI; and
  2. Causes a lethal collision; and
  3. Has three prior DUI convictions

The only "element" that differentiates vehicular homicide from DUI causing death is having three prior DUI convictions. These prior convictions can be from any time in the defendant's life. There is no "lookback" or "washout" period for NRS 484C.130 charges.

Note that a person can commit DUI without being impaired. Merely have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08% qualifies as DUI. Or merely having illegal blood levels of certain drugs qualifies as DUI. It is irrelevant if the driver is not acting inebriated, stoned, or high.1

2. How is it different from vehicular manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter (NRS 484B.657) is an entirely separate crime from vehicular homicide in Nevada. Vehicular manslaughter is when a driver's simple negligence causes a fatal car accident.

Example: Tori forgets to signal before turning right, causing a bicyclist to collide into her and die. Prosecutors charge her with vehicular manslaughter for her negligent action of failing to signal.

Had Tori been drinking, she would instead face DUI with death charges.

Vehicular manslaughter is only a misdemeanor. Penalties include:

  • Up to six months in jail; and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines2

3. What are the penalties?

As a category A felony, vehicular homicide carries:

  • 25 years or life in Nevada State Prison; and
  • A 3-year license revocation

According to NRS 484C.440, defendants should be incarcerated in a minimum-security facility. They will probably be segregated from violent offenders. And they may earn parole after 10 years.

When determining the final sentence, the judge will take into account whether a child under 15 was in the vehicle. This is called an "aggravating factor." If this aggravating factor exists, the judge will impose a longer sentence than he/she might otherwise.3

Vehicular homicide penalties are harsher than those for DUI causing death. This is only a category B felony, carrying:

  • 2 to 20 years in prison; and
  • A fine of $2,000 to $5,000 (at the judge's discretion); and
  • A 3-year license revocation.4

4. Can I do DUI court instead of prison?

People charged with vehicular homicide are not eligible to do Felony DUI Court. Also called the Serious Offender's Program, Felony DUI Court is an intensive rehabilitation program open only to defendants facing a third-time DUI charge in Nevada.

5. What are common defenses?

The best defense strategies to vehicular homicide charges turn on the available evidence, such as:

  • Surveillance video,
  • Eyewitness testimony,
  • Blood test and breath test results, and
  • Accident reconstruction expert testimony

Below are potential defenses and how they may reduce or dismiss NRS 484C.130 charges:

Vehicular homicide defense

Potential result in Nevada

Defendant did not cause the accident and

  • Was not intoxicated, or
  • Became intoxicated after the accident

The case may be dismissed entirely.

Defendant was intoxicated but did not cause the accident

Charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor DUI if the defendant has:

  • No more than one DUI conviction in the past 7 years; and
  • No prior felony DUI convictions

Otherwise, the charge may be reduced to a felony DUI.

Defendant caused the accident but:

  • Was not intoxicated, or
  • Became intoxicated after the accident

Charge may be reduced to:

Defendant was intoxicated, caused the accident, but did not have three prior DUI convictions

Charge may be reduced to DUI causing death (a felony). 

The police committed misconduct. Examples include:

  • Performing an illegal search;
  • Coercing a confession;
  • Administering the field sobriety tests incorrectly; and/or
  • Mishandling the chemical testing equipment

The case may be reduced or dismissed entirely.

6. Can the record be sealed?

Felony DUI convictions may never be sealed in Nevada. Therefore, vehicular homicide convictions are unsealable.5

But the record may be sealable if the case gets reduced or dismissed:

Nevada conviction

Record seal wait time

Vehicular homicide

Never

Felony DUI:

  • DUI third
  • DUI causing injury or death
  • DUI following a felony DUI

Never

Misdemeanor DUI:

7 years after the case ends

Felony reckless driving

5 years after the case ends

Vehicular manslaughter

1 year after the case ends5

No conviction (dismissal)

Immediately6

Learn about how to seal criminal records in Nevada.

7. What are the immigration consequences?

DUI is generally not deportable. But the rules get fuzzier when a felony and fatality are involved.

Non-citizens facing fatal DUI charges should contact an attorney immediately. The attorney can analyze whether the person's legal status is threatened and how to fight back.

Receptionists waiting for your call.
Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys. 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We offer FREE consultations.

Calls us if you have been arrested . . .

Charged with a fatal DUI in Nevada? We may be able to get the charge lessened or dismissed with no trial. Contact our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys today at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).


Legal References

  1. NRS 484C.130; NRS 484C.440.
  2. NRS 484B.657.
  3. NRS 484C.440; NRS 483.460; See, e.g., David Kiharalas, "Motorist gets life in prison for fatal bus stop crash", Las Vegas Review-Journal (May 21, 2009).
  4. NRS 484C.430; NRS 483.460.
  5. NRS 179.245.
  6. NRS 179.255.

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