The state of California can harshly punish drivers for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The penalties for a DUI in Los Angeles may be greatly increased if the driver injures another person while behind the wheel.
Depending on the exact situation, drivers could be charged under CA Penal Code Section 191.5(b): Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – Ordinary Negligence. The Simmrin Law Group can help you learn more about the specifics of a PC 191.5(b) violation, including:
- The Specific Definition of PC 191.5(b)
- The Penalties for a PC 191.5(b) Conviction
- The Legal Defenses for PC 191.5(b) Charges
Defining PC 191.5(b) in the California Legal System
Drivers may face charges under PC 191.5(b) if they operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and:
- Demonstrate Ordinary Negligence
- Commit an Additional Infraction, Misdemeanor, or Dangerous Lawful Act AND
- Cause Another Person’s Death
A conviction under PC 191.5(b) can have very serious repercussions, so it is important to understand all aspects of this charge.
Ordinary Negligence vs. Gross Negligence
PC 191.5(b) charges deal specifically with deaths caused by ordinary negligence. The court defines ordinary negligence as a failure to demonstrate reasonable care for others. Drivers act with ordinary negligence if they:
- Perform an Act a Reasonable Person Would Avoid
- Avoid Doing Something a Reasonable Person Would Do
Drivers may also demonstrate gross negligence while operating a vehicle under the influence. Gross negligence is more serious, as it involves taking actions that could endanger the lives of others with a reckless lack of consideration.
The court in Los Angeles can use California Penal Code Section 191.5(a): Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated to prosecute drivers who show gross negligence. This charge is usually punished more harshly than a PC 191.5(b) violation.
PC 191.5(b) Charges and Driving Under the Influence
The state of California uses California Penal Code Section 192(c) to prosecute vehicular manslaughter that does not involve a DUI. PC 191.5(b) specifically addresses vehicular deaths that involve the use of alcohol or drugs.
California’s laws on driving under the influence set limits on the amount of alcohol individuals can consume before getting behind the wheel. Drivers may face criminal charges if their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds 0.08.
Note that drivers may face stricter BAC limits if they are:
- Under 21
- Commercial Drivers
Even if a driver does not cause the unlawful death of another person while driving under the influence, they may be charged under:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23140: Under 21 DUI With Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.05-0.07 Percent
- 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 Percent Or Higher
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f): Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
- California Vehicle Code Section 23153: DUI Causing Injury
Penalties for PC 191.5(b) Convictions in California
The courts in California can prosecute PC 191.5(b) as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the charges. The penalties vary for this charge, and can include:
Misdemeanor PC 191.5(b) Penalties:
- Jail Time: Up to One Year
- Fines: Up to $1,000
Felony PC 191.5(b) Penalties:
- Prison Time: Up to Four Years
- Fines: Up to $10,000
Note that drivers may also have their license suspended for a year as part of a felony conviction. Misdemeanor convictions do not lead to an automatic suspension of a driver’s license in many cases.
Building a Defense for PC 191.5(b) Charges
Drivers can increase the odds that they will successfully resolve a PC 191.5(b) accusation by contacting a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. A professional DUI lawyer may be able to build a defense by demonstrating that a driver:
Was Not Intoxicated During the Accident
Drivers should only be convicted under PC 191.5(b) if they were operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A lawyer may be able to disprove BAC test results to show that the driver was sober at the time of the accident.
Was Not Negligent
Not all accidents are the result of negligent actions. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to show that a driver acted in a reasonable fashion during the accident, without demonstrating ordinary or gross negligence.
Was Facing an Emergency Situation
Some situations require drivers to adjust their normal behaviors. If a driver deals with an emergency in a manner that would be seen as reasonable by others – even if it is not part of the normal operation of a vehicle – they may be able to avoid a PC 191.5(b) conviction.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer for PC 191.5(b) Charges
Drivers can face harsh penalties if they are convicted under CA Penal Code Section 191.5(b): Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated – Ordinary Negligence. Find out more about your legal options by contacting the Simmrin Law Group now. You can reach our criminal defense lawyers by filling out our online contact form, or calling (310) 896-2723.
Reach out today for a FREE initial case evaluation.