Anytime a driver gets behind the wheel in California after drinking to intoxication, they can be charged with a criminal act. Drivers may face additional charges if they then cause the death of another person by committing:
- Another Misdemeanor
- An Infraction
- A Dangerous but Otherwise Lawful Act
These actions can be prosecuted under CA Penal Code Section 191.5(a): Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated. Find out how California prosecutes PC 191.5(a) right here. The Simmrin Law Group can go over specifics of the charge, penalties for a conviction, and possible legal defenses.
PC 191.5(a): The Legal Definition in California
PC 191.5(a) is one of the many charges used to prosecute DUI accusations in Los Angeles and around California. Generally, drivers only face charges for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if they:
- Operate a Vehicle While Intoxicated
- Carry Out Another Misdemeanor, Infraction, or Dangerous Lawful Act
- Behave with Gross Negligence, AND
- Cause Another Person to Die
Drivers demonstrate gross negligence if they operate their vehicle recklessly and in a way that increases the risk of:
- Great Bodily Injury, OR
Drivers must also act in a way that would be seen as dangerous in a reasonable person to demonstrate gross negligence. Note that drivers may still face criminal charges if they merely injure another person while driving under the influence with California Vehicle Code Section 23153: DUI Causing Injury.
PC 191.5(a): Driving Under the Influence
Drivers can only face PC 191.5(a) charges if they are operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Drivers may be considered intoxicated if they drive after:
- Drinking Alcohol
- Using Drugs
California sets strict limits on the amount of alcohol a person can consume before getting behind the wheel. Generally, drivers must keep their blood alcohol content (BAC) below:
- 0.08% for Non-Commercial Drivers Over 21
- 0.04% for Commercial Drivers Over 21
- 0.01% for All Drivers Under 21
Violations of DUI laws can lead to a number of charges in Los Angeles, even if a driver does not harm anyone else, including:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23140: Under 21 DUI With Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.05-0.07%
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a): Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b): Driving With A Blood Alcohol Content Of 0.08% Or Higher
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f): Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
PC 191.5(a): Penalties for a Conviction
Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is prosecuted as a felony in California courts. Drivers who are convicted of PC 191.5(a) violations could face:
- Prison Time: Up to 10 Years
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- License Revocation: Three Years or More
Note that these are general penalties for a PC 191.5(a) conviction. The repercussions can be more serious for drivers with a previous PC 191.5(a) conviction, or a criminal record involving:
- Driving Under the Influence
- Ordinary Vehicular Manslaughter
- A DUI Causing Injury
- Vehicular Manslaughter While Operating a Boat
Drivers with an applicable criminal history may have their prison sentence increased severely. Depending on the circumstances, a driver could even face life in prison for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated conviction.
PC 191.5(a): Legal Defenses for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
The harsh penalties for a PC 191.5(a) conviction make it important that drivers get immediate legal help on their side after they are charged. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer may be able to build a defense for you by showing:
You Weren’t Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Some drivers are falsely accused of a DUI after an accident. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to scrutinize BAC test results while investigating your case in an effort to show you were not intoxicated. Note that you may still face charges under California Penal Code 192(c): Vehicular Manslaughter/Gross Vehicular Manslaughter. PC 192(c) is not punished as severely as PC 191.5(a).
You Weren’t Demonstrating Gross Negligence
Gross negligence requires you to act in a way that a reasonable person would see as dangerous to the health and well-being of others. Your lawyer may be able to show that you did not act this way, which could reduce your charges and remove some penalties.
You Weren’t Response for the Victim’s Death
You should only be convicted under PC 191.5(a) if your actions led to another individual’s death. If someone else involved in the accident was responsible for the death, you may be able to avoid a conviction for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Get Help Handling PC 191.5(a) Charges Today
CA Penal Code Section 191.5(a): Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated can be used to prosecute individuals who cause serious accidents while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can get help addressing this charge by working with a criminal defense lawyer. The Simmrin Law Group can offer you a FREE consultation about your case today.
Call us now at (310) 896-2723, or complete our online contact form to get started.