Maine DUI Fatality Defense Lawyer
Serving the Bangor, Biddeford, Augusta, Portland, and Saco Areas
When a car accident occurs and a life is lost, Maine police look for someone to hold responsible. This usually involves them performing sobriety tests on all drivers involved in the crash. Unfortunately, even if the accident was caused by another driver, if you are found to have alcohol in your system you could be charged with DUI or vehicular manslaughter.
Whereas most OUI arrests occur after a driver is pulled over, OUIs involving fatalities occur after an accident. When police respond to the scene of an accident where people are badly hurt or killed, they will investigate the crash. This includes evaluating all drivers involved for signs of OUI. If anyone is suspected of being intoxicated, they will be arrested right away.
When drunk driving results in an accident, the offender faces severe penalties if convicted, especially if the collision results in the death of another motorist or passenger. Sentencing will be influenced by the driver's record, particularly in the event of any prior convictions of OUI.
What is Vehicular Manslaughter?
Manslaughter involves the unlawful killing of another person, but without the criminal elements that define a murder. These are very serious charges and you will want to get the best Maine criminal defense attorney available when facing any type of OUI. The state specifies that an individual will be found guilty of manslaughter if the prosecution can prove that the defendant committed either of the following:
- They caused the death of another person through recklessness or criminal negligence
- They intentionally or knowingly caused the death of another person out of extreme fear or anger caused by adequate provocation
In the case of a death that results from drunk driving, the first type of manslaughter applies, as the offender is charged as acting with criminal negligence. Criminal negligence refers to the offender's state of mind at the time of the offense. In this situation, the driver who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs could be accused of a criminal act of negligence because they willfully took to the road with the knowledge that they were putting the public in risk and that they could potentially harm another person.
You are considered under the influence in Maine if you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more or have any amount of an intoxicant in your system.
Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter
According to The Century Council, in 2011 there were 23 fatalities that resulted from alcohol related accidents. Maine police are working to get this number down to zero. Judges and prosecutors look to sentence OUI drivers who cause accidents leading to death to the fullest extent of the law.
Maine does not use the classifications ‘felony' and ‘misdemeanor' to describe crimes. Instead, they use a system that involves 5 classes of crimes. Class E crimes are the least serious and carry the lightest sentence while Class A crimes are the most severe and carry the steepest sentences. Generally, Class A and B offenses are considered to be the equivalent of felony charges. Crimes that involve the loss of life due to alcohol or drug impairment are felony offenses.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, vehicular manslaughter is charged as either a Class B or Class A offense. These are the two most severe classes of crime a person can face in the state of Maine.
- Class B: The second most serious type of crime, punishable by a fine of as much as $20,000 and incarceration of up to 10 years.
- Class A: The most serious type of offense, punishable by a fine of as much as $50,000 and incarceration of up to 30 years.
In addition to these penalties, you will face 3 years of license suspension after you have served your other sentence.
If you are convicted of causing a loss of life due to drug or alcohol intoxication, you will be forced to serve these penalties. Under Maine law, any driver who is OUI and causes injury or death to another is not entitled to a suspended sentence. A suspended sentence is when you receive an original sentence, usually including jail time, but do not have to serve it if you can go a certain amount of time without committing another offense. It is one way that an attorney can help their clients avoid jail time if convicted, but it is not an option in these situations.
Maine OUI Manslaughter Lawyer
Manslaughter charges are some of the most serious DUI charges you can face. It is important to hire a Maine DUI lawyer who is experienced in DUI manslaughter in order to make sure that you get the best results possible. Any type of DUI charge can result in jail time, license suspension, probation, and fines. When a death is involved, everything increases including the number of charges. In these situations, make sure you have an attorney that you can trust.
If you have been charged with DUI Manslaughter in Maine, call us today.