Vehicular Manslaughter (Misdemeanor or Felony)

An intoxicated driver, whether under the influence of alcohol or drugs (even prescription drugs), who kills another person as a result of his or her driving but without gross negligence (and without malice aforethought) may be charged with vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code section 191.5(b). If the driver is not only driving while intoxicated and also grossly negligent, (but without malice aforethought) he or she may charged with the more serious charge of gross vehicular manslaughter under Penal Code section 191.5(a). It is important to consult a vehicular manslaughter lawyer in Orange County if you are facing either of these charges. The difference between the two charges is that under section 191.5(a), the intoxicated driver was driving in a manner that amounted to more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake. In other words, the driving was reckless and risked death or great bodily injury. An example of this might be a drunk driver who is flying down the freeway at 90 mph and causes an accident where someone dies.

Whether charged under section 191.5(a) or (b), the driver will also be charged with a DUI and possibly other charges. Being involved in an accident that ended in the death of another person is overwhelming, being charged with causing that death is emotionally devastating. If you have been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, you may feel paralyzed or as if all is without hope. That is understandable and it is why you should consult with an experienced Orange County vehicular manslaughter attorney right away. William Weinberg has defended many DUI vehicular manslaughter cases. He understands the emotional impact these charges have on his clients and through his expertise and understanding of the law, he is able to help his through this difficult time. Contact Mr. Weinberg at any time to set up a confidential consultation with a vehicular manslaughter attorney in Orange County without charge. He will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.


Section 191.5(a) is always charged as a felony, while section 191.5(b) is a "wobbler" meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under Penal Code section 191.5(a), the punishment is imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 on a first offense. Section 191.5(b), if charged as a misdemeanor carries up to one year in jail, fines and potential restitution. When section 191(b) is charged as a felony, the punishment is 16 months, 2, or 4 years imprisonment in state prison. The charge carries a potential enhancement of up to six additional years imprisonment under Penal Code 12022.7 if a surviving victim suffers great bodily injury. A conviction of vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated will also result in a suspension of driving privileges for three years1.

With a good defense, even a driver convicted under the more serious felony charges can often avoid a sentence of incarceration and secure a grant of probation instead. If you have been charged with this violation, contact Orange County vehicular manslaughter lawyer William Weinberg. He will consult with you regarding your options, potential defenses to the charge, and the possible outcomes if you are convicted.

1VEH. CODE §13351

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Anyone who is arrested should contact an experienced Orange County DUI Criminal Defense Attorney to determine whether or not their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, were violated.