Vehicular homicide is the most serious offense that a drunk driver in Las Vegas, Nevada, can be convicted of for allegedly causing a fatal car crash or hitting a pedestrian and causing a fatality. The law is targeted at repeat offenders and potentially carries a life sentence.
However, prosecutors are often willing to negotiate these cases, and our criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience in getting DUI-related charges reduced or dismissed so our clients stay out of jail and keep their records clean.
Definition (NRS 484C.130)
The legal definition of "vehicular homicide" in Las Vegas, Nevada, applies only in cases where the driver meets the following three criteria:
- He/she is under the influence of alcohol and drugs,
- He/she already has three (3) prior DUI convictions, and
- He/she "proximately causes the death of another person while driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle on or off the highways of this State."
Vehicular homicide laws in Nevada are therefore targeted solely at habitual DUI offenders. So if someone has only two prior DUI convictions and is then accused of killing someone by drunk driving, he/she would instead be charged with "felony DUI causing death in Las Vegas," which has less harsh penalties.
Beware not to get "vehicular homicide" confused with "vehicular manslaughter in Nevada," which are entirely separate crimes. The latter is only a misdemeanor, and it is charged when a driver's "simple negligence" causes the death of another whether or not alcohol was involved.
Being arrested for violating vehicular homicide laws in Nevada can be scary, but remember that a charge does not mean that you are guilty. The prosecution has to meet a very high standard of proof in order to get a conviction. Standard defenses attorneys use in these kinds of cases in Las Vegas include the following:
- The driver's drunk driving was not the cause of the fatality. If the prosecution cannot show that the driver was at fault for the death, the charge should be dismissed.
- The victim who died was more at fault than the driver. For example, if the victim stepped in front of the driver's car or lost control of his own car, the charge should be dismissed.
- The driver did not begin drinking or taking drugs until after he/she stopped driving the car. If your attorney can show that the driving was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this charge should be dismissed.
Vehicular homicide is a category A felony in Nevada. A Clark County judge may impose the following punishment:
- twenty-five years to life in Nevada State Prison (with the possibility of parole after 10 years)
- possible license suspension or revocation
If the driver was allegedly transporting a child fourteen years old or younger at the time of the alleged violation, the judge will probably impose a longer sentence than he/she might otherwise. The Nevada Department of prisons will make a reasonable effort to segregate people convicted of vehicular homicide from violent offenders and to house them in minimum security facilities. (NRS 484C.440)
If the prosecutors on a vehicular homicide case in Nevada will not dismiss the charges outright, they may be amenable to reducing them to either of the following lesser crimes:
- Felony DUI causing death in Las Vegas. This is basically the same crime as vehicular homicide except that anyone can be charged with it whether or not they have prior drunk driving convictions. It carries a two-to-twenty year prison sentence.
- Felony Reckless Driving in Nevada: This offense is usually charged when a fatal car accident does not involve drunk driving and the driver was allegedly acting with wanton disregard for the safety of others. Felony reckless driving in Nevada carries one to six years in prison and fines of $2,000 to $5,000.
- Vehicular Manslaughter in Nevada: As explained above, this is the least serious crime someone can be charged with for allegedly causing a fatal car collision. It is reserved for cases where a driver's "simple negligence" caused a fatality, and it carries only up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000.
Calls us if you are facing charges . . .
If you have been charged with vehicular homicide in Nevada (NRS 484C.130), call our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free meeting. We also defend immigrants and non-citizens and make every effort to keep their resident status intact.