When a person is operating a car and is over the legal influence of alcohol, an accident is likely to happen. It is against the law to even be driving when under the influence of alcohol; however, becoming involved in a fatal accident as a result is extremely serious.
If it is determined that a person who was driving under the influence of alcohol caused a fatal crash, they are likely to be held accountable for either manslaughter or murder. Whether the person is charged with manslaughter or murder depends on the exact circumstances. In both situations, the drunk driver can be held liable by surviving family members to pay for wrongful death damages.
What is a DUI manslaughter charge?
When a person is involved in an accident in which another person dies, and they are later found to be under the influence of alcohol, it is likely that they will be found guilty of DUI manslaughter. This means that, although they were guilty of causing another person's death, they did not act with any intent.
The main variable regarding this charge is the question of whether the person acted with gross negligence or ordinary negligence. If it was gross negligence, then the charge and associated penalties in criminal court -- and the potential liabilities in civil court -- could be elevated. The issue of gross negligence depends on the types of actions that led up the accident that caused the person's death.
What is a DUI murder charge?
DUI murder charges are much less common, and they vary from state to state. However they usually occur when a person intends to kill another, or when they act with absolute disregard for human life.
DUI murder and manslaughter charges will result in the liability of the drunk driver who has been accused. As such, surviving family members may wish to investigate their legal rights and options regarding a wrongful death lawsuit after a tragic accident like this.
Source: FindLaw, "DUI Manslaughter and DUI Murder," accessed Feb. 16, 2018