In North Carolina, a motorist who kills another person while driving a vehicle can face charges of death by motor vehicle or vehicular homicide. Depending on the circumstances supporting the accident, the charges that can be brought against the driver can be either a felony or a misdemeanor.
Under state statute, felony death-by-vehicle is defined as unintentionally causing the death of another person while in violation of the state’s DWI (driving while impaired) laws. A felony could be charged if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
North Carolina law defines “impairment” as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, having any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance n the body.
Misdemeanor death-by-vehicle, however, involves causing the death of another person while committing a traffic violation other than DWI, such as texting-while-driving, speeding, or reckless driving.
It is important to note that to be convicted of misdemeanor death-by-vehicle, the legal cause of death must be because of the traffic violation. If a direct link between the two are not found, the charges can not be brought.
Misdemeanor death-by-vehicle is considered a class A1 misdemeanor which carries up to 150 days in jail and fines in an amount deemed appropriate by the judge.
Felony death-by-vehicle is considered a class D felony and if convicted, motorists face 38 to 160 months in prison and fines in an amount deemed appropriate by the judge.
There are higher levels of death-by-vehicle to be considered if aggravating factors are found. A motorist who commits felony death-by-vehicle and has a prior DWI conviction is guilty of “aggravated felony death-by-vehicle,” a class D felony. A conviction carries 64 to 160 months in prison and fines in an amount deemed appropriate by the judge.
Any motorists convicted of death-by-vehicle regardless of if it is a misdemeanor or felony will face license revocation for at least a year.
If you have been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle, contact our office today at 828-631-2500 for a free consultation.