No one intends to cause a motor vehicle accident – especially one that results in the death of another person. But if it happens, it can completely change the course of your life. Utah law enforcement takes Automobile Homicide and all other DUI crimes very seriously. But there is hope. If you have been charged with Automobile Homicide in Utah you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. There are defenses you can raise and things you can do that can drastically improve the outcome of your case. The Automobile Homicide criminal defense attorneys at Intermountain Legal have the extensive knowledge of Automobile Homicide law and the relationships with Utah prosecutors and judges that can make all the difference in your case.
Utah Automobile Homicide Law
Automobile Homicide is the crime of causing the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Utah law treats Automobile Homicide differently than regular Homicide due to the intentions of the actor. In order to be charged with Homicide in Utah you must have had the intention to cause the death of another person. Because drivers who cause the death of another person while under the influence of drugs or alcohol generally do not intend the fatal results of their actions, Automobile Homicide is treated as a different classification of crime.
While Automobile Homicide in Utah does not require that the driver have the intention to kill another person, it does require that the driver have the intention to consume the alcohol or drugs that were in his or her system at the time the homicide was committed. As with other Utah DUI crimes, alcohol is assumed to impair a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle when the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher.
The Utah definition of Automobile Homicide obviously includes driving while high on illegal drugs or illegally obtained prescription drugs. However, the drugs taken need not be illegal drugs. A person is guilty of Automobile Homicide in Utah if at the time of the homicide he or she was driving under the influence of any substance which could impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. This can include the authorized use of prescription medications such as pain killers and sleep aids or even over-the-counter remedies such as allergy medications if those medications can cause drowsiness or other conditions which can impair a person’s ability to drive safely.
Although the Utah law calls this crime Automobile Homicide, it is not limited to cars. Automobile Homicide can be committed using any kind of self-propelled vehicle. This includes all types of trucks, motorcycles, airplanes, trains, and boats.
Utah Automobile Homicide Consequences
Automobile Homicide in Utah is either a second or third degree felony based on the driver’s level of negligence. Utah differentiates between “negligence” and “criminal negligence.”
For Automobile Homicide to be charged as a third degree felony, the driver must have been negligent. The Utah law defines negligence as the failure to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable and prudent person would have exercised under the same circumstances. It is important to note that Utah law will compare the driver’s conduct to what a reasonable and prudent sober person would have done under the same circumstances. Utah courts will not take into consideration what would have been the expected conduct for a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The maximum consequences which a Utah court can impose for a third degree felony are a fine of $5000 and five years in a Utah state prison.
Under different circumstances, Utah authorities can charge Automobile Homicide as a second degree felony. Automobile Homicide is a second degree felony in Utah if the driver was criminally negligent. A driver is criminally negligent in Utah if he or she should have been aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that someone could be killed if he or she got behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The risk that someone could be killed must be so obvious that the failure to recognize it is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would take if they were in the driver’s same situation. Automobile Homicide can also be charged as a second degree if the driver has a previous DUI on their criminal record. For a second degree felony, Utah courts can impose a sentence of one to fifteen years in a Utah state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
As with other Utah DUI crimes, a person convicted of Automobile Homicide has a strong chance of losing their driver’s license
Contact a Utah Automobile Homicide Lawyer
Almost without exception, people who retain the help of a criminal defense attorney from Intermountain Legal get a better outcome in their Automobile Homicide case than people who try to represent themselves. Automobile Homicide charges are serious, but we can help you. Your initial consultation is always free, so call as soon as you become aware of a problem. We always advise anyone facing criminal charges to speak with one of our criminal defense lawyers before answering any questions from Utah police. Let us help you protect your rights and get the best possible outcome in your Automobile Homicide case. Call our office today at 801-990-4200 or contact us online to begin taking control of your legal troubles.
Intermountain Legal is located in Salt Lake City, UT and serves clients throughout all of Northern and Central Utah including Salt Lake City, Midvale, Sandy, West Jordan, North Salt Lake, Bountiful, South Jordan, Clearfield, Woods Cross, Draper, Farmington, Centerville, Layton, Ogden, Lehi, Provo, Orem, Park City and the counties of Davis, Salt Lake, Weber, Utah, Tooele and Summit.