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DUI Manslaughter? Or Vehicular Homicide?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense

The majority of auto collisions in Florida thankfully result in only minor injuries — or no injuries at all. Of course, there are the few wrecks that require immediate medical care. Some people involved in these collisions pass away. Those who cause wrecks that result in severe bodily injury or death may, depending on a few circumstances, be charged with a criminal traffic offense. Two examples of this type of crime are DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

What is Vehicular Homicide?

Florida Statutes Sec. 782.071 defines vehicular homicide as the “killing of a human being, or the killing of an unborn child by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.” The key phrase here is “a reckless manner.” The prosecution must prove that the driver was  responsible for the death and driving in a manner outside the bounds of how a reasonably prudent person would operate a vehicle. One way to think of recklessness is negligence plus disregard. Simply speeding is usually not enough to elevate a charge to vehicular homicide.

Vehicular homicide in Florida is designated as either a second-degree or first-degree felony:

  • Second-degree felonies in Florida carry a maximum of 15 years of prison or probation and a fine of up to $10,000. Judges may be required to sentence offenders to a minimum time in prison if convicted.
  • First-degree felonies in Florida carry a maximum of 30 years of prison or probation along with a $10,000 fine. What makes a vehicular homicide a first-degree felony is the driver’s failure to stop and render aid — in other words, a hit-and-run.

What is DUI Manslaughter?

To convict someone of DUI manslaughter, the prosecution must first show that the driver was in actual physical control of a vehicle while he or she was impaired by alcohol or other substances. Remember: the BAC threshold is .08 for non-commercial drivers (who are otherwise legally permitted to purchase alcohol). If someone driving under the influence in Florida directly or indirectly causes the death of another person, that driver is probably getting charged with DUI manslaughter. One does not have to be driving a vehicle in a reckless manner to be charged with DUI manslaughter.

In Florida, DUI manslaughter is classified as either a second- or first-degree felony. Similarly to vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter is a first-degree felony when the driver does not stop to render aid.


DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide are two of the most serious motor vehicle offenses you can be charged with in Florida. If you or someone close to you is facing these charges, your stress levels are understandably through the roof. The best thing you can do right now is to contact an experienced and effective DUI attorney.
Titan Law focuses on defending Floridians dealing with DUI and other vehicular offenses. You have the right to competent counsel, and we make sure that right is maximized. Get in touch with us immediately to set up a consultation with a boutique Florida law firm.