The decision to drive while under the influence (DUI) is always a risk. Not only is it a risk to the person who gets behind the wheel, but it is also a risk to passengers, pedestrians and other drivers on the road.
If someone decides to drive after they have had too much to drink and ends up killing someone else, they may face one of two charges: DUI murder or DUI manslaughter.
DUI murder charges
A DUI murder charge is more complicated than simply having the intent to kill someone. An extreme disregard for human life falls under second-degree murder. A prosecutor may argue that the defendant’s actions showed this degree of disregard at the time of the crime. While this charge is sometimes more difficult to prove, it does carry more severe consequences. The prosecution must prove the following elements for a DUI murder charge.
- The death of another person was the result of the defendant’s deliberate act
- The actions of the defendant naturally result in circumstances which are dangerous to human life
- The defendant intentionally took those actions, thus consciously disregarding human life at the time
DUI manslaughter charges
According to FindLaw, DUI manslaughter is the most common charge between the two. Generally speaking, when someone drives after drinking too much, they rarely drive off intending to kill someone else. A DUI manslaughter charge typically has either ordinary or gross negligence elements. The difference boils down to how reckless the driver’s actions were upon the occurrence of the accident.
The Sebastian Daily explains that a DUI manslaughter charge is a felony with a minimum of four years in prison.