Vehicular Homicide – Intoxication – Tennessee Law

Criminal defense attorneys have successfully represented individuals charged with homicide offenses due to drunk driving in Tennessee. Criminal homicide is the unlawful killing of another person. Under Tennessee law, criminal homicide is broken down into seven classifications: First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Voluntary Manslaughter, Reckless Homicide, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Assisted Suicide, and Vehicular Homicide.

Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-13-213 defines Vehicular Homicide as the reckless killing of another by the operation of an automobile, airplane, motorboat or other motor vehicle, as the proximate result of:

(1) Conduct creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person;
(2) The driver’s alcohol or drug intoxication;
(3) Conduct constituting the offense of Drag Racing.

Vehicular Homicide — Intoxication:

In order to be found guilty of Vehicular Homicide by intoxication, the State of Tennessee must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
(1) That the defendant killed the alleged victim by the operation of a motor vehicle, automobile, airplane, or motorboat;
(2) That the defendant acted recklessly, i.e., the defendant was aware of, but consciously disregarded, a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the alleged victim would be killed. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the defendant’s standpoint.
The requirement of “recklessly” is established if it is shown that the defendant acted either intentionally or knowingly.
(3) That the killing was the proximate result of the driver’s intoxication, i.e., having a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher or acting “under the influence” of any intoxicant, marijuana, narcotic drug, or drug producing stimulating effects on teh central nervous system or under the influence of alcohol. “Under the influence” includes any mental or physical condition which is the result of taking intoxicants or drugs in any form and which deprives one of that clearness of mind and control of oneself which one would otherwise possess. It is not necessary that the person be in such a condition as would make him or her guilty of public drunkenness; the law merely requires that the person be under the influence of an intoxicant or drugs.

In vehicular homicide cases, the impairment or intoxication level of the alleged driver must be carefully considered in order to determine whether the accused will be convicted of Vehicular Homicide by intoxication, Vehicular Homicide by reckless conduct, or a lesser offense such as Criminally Negligent Homicide.

It is important to hire a Tennessee criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with Murder, Vehicular Homicide, or another homicide offense. Vehicular Homicide by intoxication under section (2) is a Class B felony. A person convicted of Vehicular Homicide by intoxication is punished by imprisonment from 8 years to 30 years and can be fined up to $25,000.00. Additionally, a person convicted of vehicular homicide will be prohibited from driving a vehicle in the State of Tennessee for at least 3 years up to a maximum of 10 years.

If you or a close friend or relative has been charged with Vehicular Homicide or another homicide offense in Tennessee, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible. Our team of attorneys will work quickly to investigate and prepare your defense, as well as seek the services of a private investigator and an accident reconstructionist to adequately defend you.