Wyoming’s Vehicular Homicide Laws and Penalties

A motorist who kills another person while driving negligently or under the influence of drugs or alcohol will likely face vehicular homicide charges.

In Wyoming, a motorist who causes the death of another person while driving in a criminally negligent manner can be charged with “homicide by vehicle.” Wyoming also has a more serious charge called “aggravated homicide by vehicle” that applies to drivers who kill another person while driving recklessly or in violation of the state’s DUI (driving under the influence) or BWI (boating while intoxicated) laws.

Criminal negligence. For purposes of Wyoming’s homicide by vehicle law, a motorist acts negligently by unknowingly doing something that poses a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” to others. The risk—in regard to nature and degree—must amount to a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use under like circumstances.

Recklessness. As with negligence, recklessness involves acting in a way that poses a substantial and unjustifiable risk to others. However—unlike with negligence—recklessness requires proof that the person was aware of but disregarded such a risk.

Causation. A driver can be convicted of homicide by vehicular only if there’s proof that the driver was a legal cause of the death. It’s not enough to merely show the defendant drove negligently, recklessly, or while under the influence and someone died—there needs to be a direct link between the defendant’s driving and the death.

Under the influence. For purposes of Wyoming’s vehicular homicide law, “under the influence” means the motorist:

  • is impaired by drugs or alcohol to an extent that the motorist is “incapable of safely driving,” or
  • has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater.

(Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 6-1-104, 6-2-106, 31-5-233, 41-13-206 (2017).)

Homicide by Vehicle Penalties

The consequences of a homicide by vehicle conviction depend on the circumstances. However, the possible penalties are:

  • Standard homicide by vehicle. Generally, homicide by vehicle is a misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail and/or a maximum $2,000 in fines.
  • Aggravated homicide by vehicle. Aggravated homicide by vehicle is a felony in Wyoming. Convicted motorist face up to 20 years in prison.

All homicide by vehicle convictions result in a one-year license revocation.  

(Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 6-2-106, 31-7-127 (2017).)

HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?

Sentencing law is complex. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including credits for good in-custody behavior and jail-alternative work programs.

If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.

Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney

Homicide by vehicle is a serious crime that can result in a long prison sentence. If you’ve been arrested for homicide by vehicle—or any other crime—get in contact with a criminal defense attorney right away. The facts of every case are different. An experienced defense attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best plan of action. 

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