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Tragic Results: When Drunk Driving Kills

A New Jersey jury recently convicted a former actress from the popular 1990s show Melrose Place of vehicular homicide after she killed someone while driving drunk.  Amy Locane had a blood alcohol level of three times the legal limit. She first struck another vehicle in a fender-bender before getting back into her car and killing a 60-year old woman and seriously injuring the woman’s husband.

The human price of drunk driving is astronomical.  Lives lost and destroyed, marriages torn asunder, a lifetime of guilt and stigma.  How does New Jersey law categorize a death caused by a drunk driver?

Vehicular homicide in New Jersey is killing a person with a car or vessel while driving or operating it recklessly.  Reckless driving includes driving under the influence of alcohol (that is, with a BAC of .08 or higher).

As a second-degree crime, vehicular homicide carries a penalty of $150,000 fine and a sentence of five to ten years in prison.  The vehicular homicide law specifically imposes a minimum sentence of between three and five years during which the offender is not eligible for parole.

If, while driving drunk, someone kills another person while in a school zone, the level of offense rises to a first degree crime, carrying with it a prison term of 10 to 20 years.

If you are accused of vehicular homicide, it is crucial to put up a careful and aggressive defense to protect your rights.  Please contact us to discuss your options.

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