A story broke this week about a teenage driver who is being accused of causing a fatal crash in Forsyth County.
He allegedly crossed over the center line, hitting the opposing car. The teenager was driving a sedan eastbound on Keith Bridge Road when he drifted over and collided head on with another vehicle traveling westbound. The victim was the other car's front-seat passenger.
The passenger, Manuel Oblea-Suarez, was taken to Northeast Medical Center after the crash where he later died. Both drivers were also taken to the hospital, but according to reports, neither are facing life-threatening injuries.
Currently, the crash remains under investigation to find the cause.
Vehicular homicide is one of the most severe charges that someone can face. The death of another person is a terrible experience regardless of how it happens. The essential fact, however, is that when dealing with vehicular homicide, the accused driver might not be responsible for the accident.
What is vehicular homicide?
Georgia law defines vehicular homicide in Georgia in two different degrees. So below, I will run through the specifics of both degrees.
1. 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. (O.C.G.A. §40-6-393)
To put it simply vehicular homicide in the first-degree is when a death results from any of the following offenses:
- Reckless driving
- Unlawful passing a school bus
- Fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer
- Leaving the scene of an accident
A first-degree vehicular homicide conviction is considered a felony in Georgia. 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.
2. 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)
To put it simply, second-degree 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.
A second-degree vehicular homicide conviction is considered a misdemeanor in Georgia. Conviction may include up to a year in jail and fines up to $1,000.
With either degree of vehicular homicide, the victim's family can sue for damages in civil court. These damages include pain and suffering or loss of company to the victim's family.
Again, a death alone does not mean that the accused driver is responsible. The State of Georgia must prove that the driver caused the death of another through his or her actions. If you or a loved one has been charged with vehicular homicide, you need to contact a Georgia DUI Attorney today.