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D.C. DUI Suspect Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter

by | Apr 30, 2013

A 49-year-old woman has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after police say she was drunk when she struck a pedestrian with her vehicle one recent Sunday afternoon.

Our D.C. DUI lawyers know that a charge of involuntary manslaughter essentially means that you are accused of criminal negligence. So while you may not have actually intended to kill the other person, your failure to exercise the appropriate degree of caution or care still means that you may held criminally liable – though to a lesser extent than if you had been charged with premeditated murder.

This woman is additionally charged with DUI.

In D.C., if you kill someone else while driving drunk, there are a number of different charges you might face, and it’s all going to depend on the specific elements of each crime definition, as well as the circumstances of the incident in which you were involved.

Although the crimes may sound very similar, the difference in penalties can be significant. That’s why it’s so critical to hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer.

A charge of manslaughter carries a possible maximum sentence of 30 years behind bars. Meanwhile, a charge of negligent homicide carries a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

Per D.C. Statute 50-2203.01, a negligent homicide charge is one in which you were operating a vehicle and in a careless, reckless or negligent manner – but not wantonly or willfully – caused the death of someone else, including a pedestrian. It’s a felony, but you won’t serve more than five years.

A good DUI lawyer may be able to have your charges pleaded down to a lesser degree before you ever go to trial and have to face a jury. In fact, you may not need to face a jury at all.

In this case, it remains to be seen whether this case will go before a jury or even whether police may tack on additional charges.

According to media reports, the 58-year-old victim had been walking on the sidewalk on South Capitol Street with her fiance to a grocery store after church when police say the driver of a white Toyota rounded the corner and lost control of her vehicle.

The pedestrian couple split – he ran one way, she ran another, attempting to avoid the vehicle.

The car reportedly struck the female pedestrian, ultimately pinning her against a tree. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Although fatal cases are inevitably more complicated than a routine DUI arrest, your defense may often depend on many of the same elements.

For example, in many DUI cases, our attorneys will focus on the investigators’ proof that you were intoxicated. That may include blood tests. That may include breathalyzer tests. That may include officer observations. All of these have the potential to be challenged.

Blood testing, for example, must now only be done with a warrant (except under extreme circumstances), per a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. So if police didn’t get a warrant before they took your blood without consent, you may have a strong case to have that evidence suppressed.

Breathalyzers, too, have come under a great deal of scrutiny, with results often shown to be inaccurately skewed higher than they should be.

Officer observations can only go so far. An officer may say you had glassy eyes or slurred speech, but we would explore the possibility of a medical condition, fatigue or other scenarios.

How we approach your involuntary manslaughter case will really depend on the individual circumstances surrounding your situation. The first thing you need to do is call us.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.