Vehicular homicide in Nevada is defined under NRS § 484C.130. To be convicted of this crime, you must have caused a fatal accident while driving under the influence and have at least three prior DUI convictions. The punishment for vehicular homicide is a sentence of 25 years to life in the Nevada State Prison.
Ed has three misdemeanor DUI convictions over the past thirty years. One night he is driving a motor vehicle intoxicated on the Strip, runs a red light, 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.
NRS 484C.440 makes vehicular homicide a category A felony. The sentence is:
- Life in Nevada State Prison; or
- 25 years in prison
Though parole is possible after serving 10 years.
Your driver’s license will also be revoked for three years.
Common arguments for fighting vehicular homicide criminal charges include:
- You were not intoxicated,
- You were not at fault for the accident, or
- You did not have three prior DUI convictions
Below our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is vehicular homicide under NRS 484C.130?
- 2. How is it different from vehicular manslaughter?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Can I do DUI Court instead of prison?
- 5. What are common defenses?
- 6. Can the record be sealed?
- 7. What are the immigration consequences?
1. What is vehicular homicide in Nevada under NRS 484C.130?
Nevada’s legal definition of vehicular homicide is when you:
- are committing DUI; and
- cause a lethal collision; and
- have 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 your life. There is no “lookback” or “washout” period for NRS 484C.130 charges.
Note that you can commit DUI without being impaired by alcohol or controlled substances. Merely having 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 you are 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 your 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 slap her with a vehicular manslaughter charge for her negligent action of failing to signal.
Had Tori been drinking at the time of the accident, 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 with the possibility of parole after 10 years; and
- A 3-year license suspension / revocation
According to NRS 484C.440, you should be incarcerated in a minimum-security facility. You will probably be segregated from violent offenders. Plus you 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 they 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?
If you are charged with vehicular homicide, you are not eligible to do Felony DUI Court. Also called the Serious Offender’s Program, Felony DUI Court is an intensive rehabilitation program open to you only if you are 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 you may reduce or dismiss NRS 484C.130 charges:
Vehicular homicide defense
Potential result in Nevada
|You did not cause the accident and
||The case may be dismissed entirely.|
|You were intoxicated but did not cause the accident||Charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor DUI if you have:
Otherwise, the charge may be reduced to a felony DUI.
|You caused the accident but:
||Charge may be reduced to:
|You were intoxicated and caused the accident, but you did not have three prior DUI convictions||Charge may be reduced to DUI causing death (a felony).|
|The police committed misconduct. Examples include:||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
Though the record may be sealable if the case gets reduced or dismissed:
Record seal wait time
|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. Though 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 your legal status is threatened and how to fight back.
Calls us if you have been arrested . . .
Charged with a fatal DUI under Nevada law? Our law office may be able to get the charge lessened or dismissed with no trial. Contact our Las Vegas DUI lawyers today to discuss creating an attorney-client relationship.
- Nevada Revised Statute 484C.130; NRS 484C.440; see also Blume v. State (1996) 112 Nev. 472; see also Cornella v. Churchill Cnty (2016) 132 Nev. 587.
- NRS 484B.657.
- NRS 484C.440; NRS 483.460; See, for example, David Kiharalas, “Motorist gets life in prison for fatal bus stop crash“, Las Vegas Review-Journal (May 21, 2009).
- NRS 484C.430; NRS 483.460.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.