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Vehicular Homicide Laws in New Jersey

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A person whose use of a motor vehicle results in the death of another person in New Jersey may be charged with and convicted of “vehicular homicide.” This definition of this crime has three main elements:

  • Recklessness: The alleged perpetrator operated a boat or vehicle recklessly and with a “conscious disregard” to the substantial risk posed by their actions. That is, they knew that the way they were driving posed a danger to other people, but they did so anyway.
  • Causation: You cannot be convicted of a vehicular homicide crime unless there is proof that your reckless driving directly caused the death of the victim.
  • Permissible inferences: The jury could infer that you were operating the vehicle recklessly, even without complete proof. For example, if you were driving while intoxicated or fell asleep behind the wheel, you may be presumed to have been reckless.

Penalties for vehicular homicide

In most situations, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony punishable by between five and 10 years in prison (with eligibility for parole) and up to $150,000 in fines.

Certain aggravating factors could result in application of more severe penalties. An offense involving an intoxicated driver is subject to the standard penalties for vehicular manslaughter, plus an additional minimum prison term of three years during which you are not eligible for parole. A drunk driver convicted of vehicular homicide also faces a minimum five-year driver’s license suspension.

The crime of aggravated vehicular homicide that occurs within 1,000 feet of a school or in a school crossing is a first-degree felony carrying a 10- to 20-year prison sentence and up to $200,000 in fines.

To learn more about vehicular homicide laws in New Jersey and how you can protect your constitutional rights, work with a trusted New Jersey criminal defense lawyer at The Law Office of David Jay Glassman. You can reach us online or at 866-221-1270.