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Vehicular Homicide


West Palm Beach Vehicular Homicide Attorney David W. Olson

Vehicular homicide is an extremely serious offense because the accused has been charged with killing a person or unborn fetus by recklessly driving a motor vehicle. A conviction for vehicular homicide can potentially result in a first or second-degree felony, many years of incarceration and other sanctions. Vehicular homicide is different than DUI Manslaughter, which is charged when the driver is intoxicated. (See our article on DUI Manslaughter for further information).

If you were charged with vehicular homicide it is essential to hire an experienced and qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. Early intervention will allow your attorney to handle the case from the onset and has often resulted in favorable dispositions, including dismissals and reductions of charges. Attorney David Olson offers a free case review.

Florida’s Vehicular Homicide Statute

Vehicular homicide – often referred to as vehicular manslaughter – is proscribed in Florida Statute 782.071:

782.071 – “Vehicular homicide” is the killing of a human being, or the killing of an unborn child by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.

(1) Vehicular homicide is:
(a) A felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s.775.084.
(b) A felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if:

  1. At the time of the accident, the person knew, or should have known, that the accident occurred; and
  2. The person failed to give information and render aid as required by s. 316.062.

This paragraph does not require that the person knew that the accident resulted in injury or death.
(2) For purposes of this section, the term “unborn child” has the same meaning as provided in s.775.021(5).
(3) A right of action for civil damages shall exist under s. 768.19, under all circumstances, for all deaths described in this section.
(4) In addition to any other punishment, the court may order the person to serve 120 community service hours in a trauma center or hospital that regularly receives victims of vehicle accidents, under the supervision of a registered nurse, an emergency room physician, or an emergency medical technician pursuant to a voluntary community service program operated by the trauma center or hospital.

Understanding Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular homicide is charged when the accused’s reckless driving was likely to result in great bodily harm or death. In some instances vehicular homicide is added to other charges, such as reckless driving, careless driving, speed limit violations, etc. The death may occur to a person or a viable fetus.

First-degree vehicular homicide may be charged when the driver knew or should have known that an accident occurred and failed to provide their personal and driving information and failed to render aid as required in Sec. 316.062, which requires:

  • The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury or death or damage to any vehicle or other property must provide their name, address, vehicle registration number and driver’s license information to the injured party, property owner and investigating police officer, and
  • Must render reasonable assistance to the injured party. Depending on the circumstances, this may entail personally taking the person for medical assistance or making arrangements by calling 911 for emergency help.
  • If the injured party is not in a condition to receive the identifying information, and if a police officer is not present, after providing or getting medical help, the driver must report the crash to the police.

Examples of Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular homicide may potentially be charged whenever a death occurs due to reckless driving. For example:

  • Driver is speeding 35 miles over the speed limit, loses control of the vehicle and strikes another vehicle head-on in the left lane. Driver immediately stops, calls 911, comforts and stays with the victim until the ambulance arrives. Driver provides identification, driver’s license, insurance and vehicular information to police and is as helpful as possible. The driver in the vehicle that was struck unfortunately died two days later. Driver is charged with one count of second degree vehicular manslaughter.

  • Driver is in a remote area away from busy roads. He is texting and driving continuously and not paying attention to driving. The vehicle veers to the side of the road and strikes and severely injures a bicyclist. In a state of fear, the driver speeds off without rendering aid or reporting the accident. The bicyclist – a female who was 8 months pregnant – was still alive when another motorist finally passes by some 45 minutes later and calls 911 for help. However, both the bicyclist and the unborn child died in the hospital from excessive loss of blood. If the accused had rendered aid and called for medical attention at the time of the accident, it is quite likely the bicyclist and unborn child would have survived. Driver is charged with two counts of first degree vehicular homicide.

Defending Against Vehicular Homicide Charges

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver operated the motor vehicle in a reckless manner. Additionally, they must prove that the reckless driving was likely to result in great bodily harm or death. An experienced criminal defense attorney is skilled in suppressing and challenging evidence. In most cases, if the evidence is inadmissible, the charges cannot be proven. Discuss your case only with your attorney.

West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney David W. Olson

For more than 30 years, Attorney Olson has successfully defended clients charged with serious felonies, including vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, reckless driving, DUI, drug offenses and other charges. He will always pursue the most favorable resolution possible for each client, which has included not guilty verdicts, dismissals, reduction of charges, alternatives to incarceration, diversion programs, probation, counseling, community service and other results. While every case is unique and the results depend on the totality of the circumstances, Attorney Olson will always provide a vigorous, well-prepared and effective legal defense. He is the attorney you want by your side when you need help. He makes himself available to his clients and is there every step of the way.

Attorney Olson has been recognized by the legal community and by his clients for his legal skills and client care. His professional awards and accolades include the following:

Attorney Olson serves clients in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Coral Springs, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Martin County, Broward County, Fort Lauderdale, Miami-Dade County and elsewhere throughout Florida. For a complimentary case review, contact The Law Offices of David W. Olson at 561-833-8866.


Florida Statute 782.071
Florida Statute 316.062

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