Georgia has two types of vehicular homicide: first-degree and second-degree. This article covers how Georgia law defines the two offenses and the penalties you'll face if convicted of a vehicular homicide offense.
Here is how Georgia law defines first- and second-degree vehicular homicide and what it means to be a "habitual violator" and "cause" the death of another.
First-degree vehicular homicide involves causing the death of another person while:
Below we explained what it means to be a habitual violator.
Second-degree vehicular homicide—the less serious of the two types—is defined as causing the death of another person while committing any traffic offense (like speeding or running a red light) other than those specified above.
Under Georgia law, a "habitual violator" is a motorist who is convicted of three or more of certain serious traffic-related crimes within a five-year period.
For purposes of the habitual violator statute, qualifying traffic offenses include DUI, reckless driving, vehicular homicide, hit-and-run, fleeing an officer, and any felony involving a motor vehicle.
A motorist can be convicted of vehicular homicide only if there's proof that the driving was a legal cause of the death. In other words, there needs to be a direct link between the defendant's driving and the death.
The consequences of a vehicular homicide conviction depend on the circumstances. But generally, the possible penalties are as follows.
First-degree vehicular homicide is a felony. Generally, convicted motorists face three to 15 years in prison. However, offenders who commit first-degree vehicular homicide as habitual violators are looking at five to 20 years in prison. And for most first-degree vehicular homicide convictions, there's a three-year license revocation.
Second-degree vehicular homicide is a misdemeanor. A conviction generally carries up to a year in jail and/or a maximum of $1,000 in fines.
A vehicular homicide conviction involves serious consequences. If you've been arrested for vehicular homicide—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 course of action.