Most of us are aware that driving a vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is a crime in the state of New York and can result in drunk driving charges and a DUI conviction. However, if someone was killed in an alleged drunk driving accident, then you may be charged with intoxicated manslaughter and face even more serious consequences.

In New York, drivers may be charged with either first-degree or second-degree vehicular manslaughter. Second-degree vehicular manslaughter is a class D felony and charges can stem from any form of illegal driving, from driving while intoxicated to driving while texting.

Second-degree charges may be upped to first-degree vehicular manslaughter, a class C felony, depending on the status of the driver and the circumstances surrounding the incident. For example, drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of at least .18 percent or a license that was previously suspended for a DWI could face first-degree charges, as could a driver who refused a breath, blood, or urine test. Drivers who cause the deaths of multiple people or cause the death of a passenger in their vehicle that is 15 years of age or younger could also be charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter.

Both first- and second-degree manslaughter charges are very serious and can result in jail time and fines. Generally, a first-degree conviction can result in up to 15 years in prison, plus fines. A second-degree conviction can result in up to seven years in prison, plus fines.

Vehicular manslaughter charges are serious and can affect the rest of your life. However, before a conviction can be obtained, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help defend you against these charges by thoroughly analyzing the case and using strong legal arguments to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.