Rhode Island's Vehicular Homicide (Driving So as to Endanger) Laws and Penalties

A Rhode Island motorist who kills another person while driving recklessly will likely be charged with “driving so as to endanger, resulting in death.”

In Rhode Island, causing the death of another person in a traffic accident can lead to serious criminal charges for the driver. This article explains Rhode Island's vehicular homicide law (officially called "driving so as to endanger, resulting in death") and the penalties for a conviction.

How Does Rhode Island Define Vehicular Homicide?

In Rhode Island, a motorist who kills another person while driving "in reckless disregard of the safety of others" can be charged with a crime called "driving so as to endanger, resulting in death" (also referred to as "vehicular homicide").

How Rhode Island Law Defines "Reckless Disregard"

As used in the statute, "reckless disregard" means the motorist drove in a manner that posed an unreasonable risk of harm to others and the motorist was or should have been aware of the risk. Generally, an honest mistake or error in judgment doesn't qualify as reckless disregard—it needs to be a fairly extreme and obvious instance of dangerous driving. In deciding whether a person's driving amounts to reckless disregard, a judge or jury might consider factors like whether the person was speeding, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or in violation of the state's distracted driving laws.

Rhode Island Law Requires Proof of "Causation" for a Vehicular Homicide Conviction

A motorist can't be convicted of driving so as to endanger, resulting in death unless there's proof that the motorist's reckless driving was a legal cause of the death. In other words, there needs to be a direct link between the defendant's bad driving and the death.

Rhode Island's Vehicular Homicide (Driving so as to Endanger Resulting in Death) Penalties

The consequences of a vehicular homicide conviction depend on the circumstances. But generally, a conviction is a felony and carries up to ten years in prison and a maximum five-year license suspension. Convicted drivers might also have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicles once their license is reinstated.

Penalties for DWIs Resulting in Deaths in Rhode Island

Where a DWI (driving while intoxicated) results in the death of another person, the driver faces five to 15 years in prison, $5,000 to $10,000 in fines, and a five-year license revocation.

Talk to a Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney

Vehicular homicide is a serious criminal charge that can result in a long prison sentence. If you've been arrested for a driving-related killing—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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