If someone is impaired, whether that impairment is by alcohol, prescription medications or illegal drugs, they are in no state to drive. If they get behind the wheel and cause a collision that results in a death, then there are harsh penalties that could apply beyond the DWI charges.
Even if the death was unintentional, the individual at fault may now face involuntary manslaughter charges. Here’s more about what you should know.
Will your DWI lead to a homicide charge?
A DWI could lead to a charge for involuntary manslaughter. Missouri Code §565.024 states that a defendant is guilty of involuntary manslaughter if they cause another person’s death while operating a vehicle while under the influence.
Interestingly, Missouri does not have a statute for vehicular homicide specifically for DWI offenses, so the more generalized involuntary manslaughter laws would apply.
What are the potential penalties for involuntary manslaughter charges in Missouri?
In Missouri, those charged with first degree involuntary manslaughter can expect to face either a Class B or Class C felony. If you are facing a Class B felony, the penalties range from five to 15 years in prison. Class C felonies come with up to seven years in prison. Fines may be up to $5,000.
If this is not the first time that you’ve been convicted of DWI involuntary manslaughter resulting in two or more deaths not including passengers in your own vehicle, the penalties increase. The same is true if your blood alcohol concentration was above .18%. In that case, the charge is changed to a Class A felony punishable by between 10 and 30 years in prison.
Those charged with second degree involuntary manslaughter may receive a Class D felony, which is the least serious of the four types. This comes with penalties of up to four years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Remember, this charge may not be the only one you face if you are accused of involuntary manslaughter while driving while intoxicated. You could also face DWI penalties on top of the risk of facing a wrongful death lawsuit from the other party’s family.