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DUI manslaughter: Things you need to know

Driving after consuming alcohol may sound like no big deal, but it's important to understand the risk you're taking. As a result of impaired judgment, you're likely to find it more difficult to control your vehicle and make sound decisions.

A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol is a big deal, as it can lead to a fine, license suspension and even time in jail. It's also possible your DUI could be attached to more serious charges, such as if you caused an accident that resulted in another person's death.

What is DUI manslaughter?

As the name suggests, a DUI manslaughter charge is the result of causing an accident that kills another person. You did not have the intention of killing someone, but it was the direct result of your alcohol consumption.

There are two types of DUI manslaughter:

  • DUI manslaughter with ordinary negligence
  • DUI manslaughter with gross (or criminal) negligence

With ordinary negligence, you have likely violated a traffic law, such as making an illegal lane change, but your behavior is not considered excessively negligent.

DUI manslaughter with gross negligence is the more serious of the two, as it requires proof that you acted with extreme negligence, such as driving the wrong way on a one-way street or going out of your way to hit someone.

What is the penalty for a DUI manslaughter conviction?

There are many penalties associated with a DUI manslaughter conviction, with the end result based on a variety of factors, including whether there was ordinary or gross negligence. Potential penalties include:

  • Loss of your driver's license for an extended period of time
  • Requirement to pay restitution to the family of the victim
  • Prison sentence of up to 10 years

These penalties are much more serious than those associated with a first time DUI, in which the convicted didn't cause harm to another person.

As one of the more serious crimes you can face, it's critical to understand your legal rights and how your case will move through the court system. There are DUI defense strategies you can use to your advantage, all of which are worth considering. Taking the right approach in a Tennessee court can be the difference between avoiding a conviction and facing a serious punishment.

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