New York Penal Law § 125.13: Vehicular manslaughter in the first degree

If you hit and kill a pedestrian or another driver with your car, it may be more than merely a bad car accident. It might also be a crime. Under New York's criminal code if you are driving your car while intoxicated or while transporting dangerous materials and you cause someone's death you could be charged with one of 3 criminal offenses including vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, vehicular manslaughter in the second degree, and aggravated vehicular homicide. To be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter in the first degree under New York Penal Law § 125.13 you cause the death of another person while driving and:

  • Your BAC was at least .18,
  • Your driving privileges had been suspended in another state because you were convicted of driving while intoxicated,
  • Your driving privileges had been suspended in another state because you refused to take a test to determine if you were driving while intoxicated,
  • Within the past 10 years you were previously convicted of driving while intoxicated in New York or another state,
  • You caused the death of more than one person,
  • You had been previously convicted of vehicular manslaughter, or
  • A child who is less than 15 years old was in the car with you and was killed.
Example

After having several drinks in a bar, a woman decides a drive home even though her friends try to stop her. They also remind her that three years ago she was convicted of driving while intoxicated and she should not risk getting another DWI conviction. The woman assures her friends that she is not intoxicated. The woman ends up driving the wrong way down a one-way street and collides with another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle dies. If the woman's BAC shows that she is legally intoxicated, the woman could be prosecuted for manslaughter in the first degree because of her previous conviction for driving while intoxicated was within the prior 10 years, or if her BAC is .18 or higher.

Related Offenses
  1. Vehicular manslaughter in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.12
  2. Aggravated vehicular homicide: New York Penal Law § 125.14
  3. Reckless driving: New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1212
Defenses

If you are able to challenge the validity of the chemical test used to prove that were intoxicated at the time of the accident, then you may have a successful defense against a charge of vehicular manslaughter in the first degree. For example, there are specific procedures that must be followed to ensure the accuracy of the chemical test.

Sentence

Because vehicular manslaughter in the first degree is a class C felony, the maximum possible sentence is 15 years in prison and a substantial fine. Furthermore, your driving privileges will be suspended or revoked.

New York Penal Law § 125.13: Vehicular manslaughter in the first degree

A person is guilty of vehicular manslaughter in the first degree when he or she commits the crime of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree as defined in § 125.12 of this article, and either:

  1. commits such crime while operating a motor vehicle while such person has .18 of one per centum or more by weight of alcohol in such person's blood as shown by chemical analysis of such person's blood, breath, urine or saliva made pursuant to the provisions of section eleven hundred ninety-four of the vehicle and traffic law;

  2. commits such crime while knowing or having reason to know that: (a) his or her license or his or her privilege of operating a motor vehicle in another state or his or her privilege of obtaining a license to operate a motor vehicle in another state is suspended or revoked and such suspension or revocation is based upon a conviction in such other state for an offense which would, if committed in this state, constitute a violation of any of the provisions of section eleven hundred ninety-two of the vehicle and traffic law; or (b) his or her license or his or her privilege of operating a motor vehicle in the state or his or her privilege of obtaining a license issued by the commissioner of motor vehicles is suspended or revoked and such suspension or revocation is based upon either a refusal to submit to a chemical test pursuant to section eleven hundred ninety-four of the vehicle and traffic law or following a conviction for a violation of any of the provisions of section eleven hundred ninety-two of the vehicle and traffic law;

  3. has previously been convicted of violating any of the provisions of section eleven hundred ninety-two of the vehicle and traffic law within the preceding ten years, provided that, for the purposes of this subdivision, a conviction in any other state or jurisdiction for an offense which, if committed in this state, would constitute a violation of section eleven hundred ninety-two of the vehicle and traffic law, shall be treated as a violation of such law.

  4. causes the death of more than one other person; or

  5. has previously been convicted of violating any provision of this article or article one hundred twenty of this title involving the operation of a motor vehicle, or was convicted in any other state or jurisdiction of an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle which, if committed in this state, would constitute a violation of this article or article one hundred twenty of this title.

If it is established that the person operating such motor vehicle caused such death or deaths while unlawfully intoxicated or impaired by the use of alcohol or a drug, or by the combined influence of drugs or of alcohol and any drug or drugs, then there shall be a rebuttable presumption that, as a result of such intoxication or impairment by the use of alcohol or a drug, or by the combined influence of drugs or of alcohol and any drug or drugs, such person operated the motor vehicle in a manner that caused such death or deaths, as required by this section and § 125.12 of this article.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter in the first degree it is imperative that you are represented by someone with experience. If you are convicted you could go to prison for more than a decade. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, conspiracy, murder and other serious crimes. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of crimes in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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