If you're involved in an accident in Montana and cause the death of another person, you could be looking at serious criminal charges. This article covers Montana's vehicular homicide and manslaughter laws and the penalties you'll face for a conviction.
In Montana, a motorist who causes the death of another person while driving negligently can be charged with "negligent homicide." Montana also has a more serious charge called "vehicular manslaughter while under the influence" that applies to drivers who negligently kill another person while in violation of the state's DUI laws.
For purposes of Montana's negligent and vehicular homicide laws, a motorist acts negligently by driving in a manner that poses a risk to others where the motorist consciously disregards or should be, but isn't, aware of the risk. And 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. In other words, the motorist takes a substantial risk while driving that an ordinary reasonable person would not take.
For purposes of Montana's vehicular homicide law, "under the influence" means the motorist:
In other words, a driver is considered to be under the influence if they have a BAC or THC concentration that's over the limit or is actually impaired.
A driver can be convicted of negligent or vehicular homicide 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 and someone died—there needs to be a direct link between the defendant's driving and the death.
Negligent and vehicular homicide are felony offenses in Montana. Negligent vehicular homicide carries up to 20 years in prison and/or a maximum of $50,000 in fines. A motorist convicted of DUI vehicular manslaughter faces up to 30 years in prison and/or a maximum of $50,000 in fines.
Both convictions result in a one-year license revocation. And a negligent homicide violation adds 12 points to the motorist's driving record.
Negligent and vehicular homicide are serious crimes that can result in a long prison sentence. If you've been arrested for negligent or 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.