01 Jul 20

NY Penal Law § 125.14: Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

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Last Updated on: 5th August 2023, 01:15 am

Under the New York Penal Code, if you are intoxicated from having used drugs or alcohol, and you kill someone while you are driving a car, minivan, SUV or any other type of vehicle, you will be charged with a serious crime. In New York, there are three offenses related to killing a person when you are driving while intoxicated.  The most egregious of these offenses is aggravated vehicular homicide. You will face a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide under New York Penal Law § 125.14 if you drive recklessly while you are intoxicated, bring about the death of another individual, and:

  1. Your Blood alcohol Content  (BAC) was at .08 or higher,
  2. Your driving privileges had previously been suspended in another state as a consequence of a conviction of driving while intoxicated,
  3. Your driving privileges had previously been suspended in another state due to the fact that you refused to take a test to determine if you were driving while intoxicated,
  4. Within the past 10 years, you have been convicted of driving while intoxicated in New York or any other state,
  5. You brought about the death of more than one person,
  6. You have a previous conviction of vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault on your criminal record, or
  7. A child who is younger than 15 years old was in the vehicle with you and was killed in the collision.

An Example

Tahir goes to a bar one evening to unwind after a long day at work. He has a few beers. Although he feels a little lightheaded from the drinks, Tahir decides to drive himself home. He approaches a stop sign and looks both ways before proceeding through the intersection. Unfortunately, instead of stopping completely, Tahir slows down a little, but then he accelerates. At the same time, Saundra steps into the crosswalk in front of the man’s car and he hits her. Saundra is pronounced dead at the scene. The police who arrive at the scene smell alcohol on Tahir’s breath. Since Tahir performs poorly on the field sobriety test, officers place him under arrest. If a chemical test shows that he has a BAC of .08 or more, Tahir could be prosecuted for aggravated vehicular manslaughter.

Offenses that are Related

Reckless driving: New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1212

Vehicular manslaughter in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 125.13

Vehicular manslaughter in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 125.12

Possible Defenses

One critical element for a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide is for the defendant to have had a Blood alcohol Content of at least .08. When law enforcement performs the chemical test to determine your BAC, the test must be performed in such a manner that the results are unassailable. You could challenge the veracity of the chemical test that would be used by the prosecutor to demonstrate that you were intoxicated above the legal BAC limit at the time of the accident.

You may also have a defense against this charge on the basis of how the test was administered. New York has guidelines that must be followed as to the way in which chemical tests must be administered and how the equipment must be calibrated.

The Sentence

Since aggravated vehicular homicide is a class B felony, the judge could sentence you to as much as 25 years behind bars, plus require you to pay a substantial fine. On top of that, your driving privileges will be suspended or revoked.