On March 2, a man, Gino Handley, and his dog were killed after being struck by a vehicle as they were walking in Avondale Estates (DeKalb County). The driver is being charged with driving under the influence, and an ongoing investigation will show if he will be charged with the death of Handley. Handley was a well-known character in Avondale Estates, and the neighborhood is mourning his death.
Vehicular homicide is one of the gravest charges that someone can face in Georgia. The death of another human being is a terrible experience regardless of how it happens. The fact is that when dealing with vehicular homicide, the driver might not actually be responsible for the accident or the driver might not have been impaired meaning that he or she wasn't responsible. As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I've been handling vehicular homicide in Georgia for more than 20 years.
The Georgia Code defines vehicular homicide.
Georgia law defines homicide by vehicle in Georgia in two different degrees. First-degree vehicular homicide is when a person, without malice aforethought, a death is caused by the person either unlawfully passing a school bus, reckless driving, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, or leaving the scene of the accident. Second-degree vehicular homicide is when a death results due to a violation of any other statute other than the ones specified for homicide in the first degree. (O.C.G.A. §40-6-393)
Vehicular homicide can be either a misdemeanor or felony charge.
A misdemeanor charge for vehicular homicide is when a death results from a violation of basic traffic laws. This is considered the second-degree homicide by vehicle mentioned in the statute above. Basic traffic law violations include speeding, failure to maintain lane, following too closely, etc. Conviction may include up to a year in jail.
A felony charge for vehicular homicide is when a death results from:
- Reckless driving
- Unlawfully passing a school bus
- Fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer
- Leaving the scene of an accident
This is considered the first-degree homicide by vehicle mentioned in the statute above. A conviction may include up to three to fifteen years in prison. If a person is a habitual violator in Georgia and his or her license has already been suspended or revoked, and he or she is charged with first-degree vehicular homicide, then the punishment can be elevated to five to twenty years in prison.
Additional penalties can be brought in civil court by the victim's family for vehicular homicide.
The victim's family can bring suit in civil court for damages. These damages include pain and suffering or loss of company to the victim's family.
A death alone does not mean that the driver is responsible. The State must prove that the driver is in fact responsible and caused the death of another through his or her actions. If you or a loved one has been charged with vehicular homicide and an underlying DUI or reckless driving charge, you need a Georgia DUI Attorney who will not assume your guilt just because there is a death. Contact us today.