In Wisconsin, causing the death of another person while driving can lead to serious criminal charges. This article covers Wisconsin's vehicular homicide laws and the penalties for a conviction.
Wisconsin has two types of vehicular homicide: "homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle" and "homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle."
Homicide by negligent operation is aptly defined as causing the death of another through criminally negligent operation or handling of a vehicle.
A person acts with criminal negligence by doing something the person should realize creates a substantial and unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm to another person.
Homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle is where a motorist kills another person while driving intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.
For purposes of the vehicular homicide statute, "intoxicated" means the driver:
This definition is the same as that for Wisconsin's driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws.
The consequences of a Wisconsin vehicular homicide conviction depend on the circumstances. The possible penalties for each type of offense are described below.
Vehicular homicide based on negligent operation is a class G felony. A conviction carries up to 10 years in prison and/or a maximum of $25,000 in fines.
Vehicular homicide based on intoxicated driving is usually a class D felony. Convicted motorists face up to 25 years in prison and/or a maximum of $100,000 in fines. However, if the motorist has at least one prior DWI conviction or DWI-related license suspension or revocation, the current offense will be a class C felony. Class C felonies carry up to 40 years in prison and/or a maximum $100,000 in fines.
A vehicular homicide conviction leads to a license revocation of at least one year. And, depending on the situation, the driver may have to install an ignition interlock device (IID).
A vehicular homicide conviction can have 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.