In Iowa, a person can be convicted of “homicide by vehicle” (sometimes called “vehicular homicide”) for causing the death of another person while:
Under the influence. For purposes of the vehicular homicide statute, “under the influence” means the person:
You’re considered impaired if your judgment is diminished, your emotions are visibly excited, or to any extent, you’ve lost control of your bodily actions or motions.
Reckless driving. Iowa law defines “reckless driving” as operating a vehicle in a manner that indicates a “willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The term “willful” refers to conduct that is intentional or purposeful. And “wanton” generally means the person understood but disregarded the consequences of the conduct.
Causation. A motorist can’t be convicted of vehicular homicide unless there’s proof that the motorist’s 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.
(Iowa Code Ann. § § 321.277, 707.6A (2017).)
The consequences of an Iowa vehicular homicide conviction depend on the circumstances. But the possible penalties are:
All drivers convicted of a non-OWI-related vehicular homicide offense are looking at a license revocation of up to one year.
(Iowa Code Ann. § § 321.212, 707.6A, 902.9 (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, “suspended” sentences, 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.
Vehicular homicide is a serious criminal charge that can result in a long prison sentence. 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 plan of action.