NRS 484C.130 is the Nevada statute that defines the crime vehicular homicide. A person commits this offense by causing a fatal DUI crash while having at least three prior DUI convictions. Sentencing is 25 years to life in Nevada State Prison.
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.
NRS 484C.440 makes vehicular homicide a category A felony. The sentence is:
- Life in Nevada State Prison; or
- 25 years in prison
But parole is possible after serving 10 years.
The defendant’s driver’s license will also be revoked for three years.
Common arguments for fighting vehicular homicide charges include:
- The defendant was not intoxicated,
- The defendant was not at fault for the accident, or
- The defendant 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 a person:
- Is committing DUI; and
- Causes a lethal collision; and
- 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
||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:
Otherwise, the charge may be reduced to a felony DUI.
|Defendant caused the accident but:
||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:||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:
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. 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.
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.
- NRS 484C.130; NRS 484C.440.
- NRS 484B.657.
- 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).
- NRS 484C.430; NRS 483.460.
- NRS 179.245.
- NRS 179.255.