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Drunk driving resulting in death? More severe punishments await

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Drunk driving is a crime in all U.S. states because an impaired driver is a danger to everyone on the road, including themselves. An inebriated driver can suffer from conditions such as blurry vision, poor body coordination, sluggishness and more. These can affect their ability to properly operate a vehicle and increase the driver’s chances of causing a collision.

Collisions caused by drunk drivers aren’t just dangerous, they’re also alarmingly frequent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 37 Americans die every day in drunk driving collisions. That’s nearly one person every 39 minutes.

If a drunk driver causes a crash resulting in another person’s death, Rhode Island officers can charge the driver with driving under the influence (DUI) of liquor or drugs, resulting in death. This special DUI charge carries heavier penalties than a regular DUI and can lead to decades in prison.

The law on DUIs leading to death

Per state law, if a person other than the intoxicated driver dies from injuries from an accident caused by the driver, the driver faces a charge of DUI resulting in death.

Drivers under the effects of intoxicating drugs or substances like paint thinner can also face the same charge if their inebriated driving leads to the death of another.

Punishments for causing a fatal drunk accident

If a court convicts a driver of a first offense of DUI resulting in death, the driver will have to serve up to 15 years in state prison and pay a maximum fine of $10,000. Officials will also revoke the driver’s license for five years, and the driver will have to fulfill several requirements (such as securing proof of financial responsibility) before they can reapply for a new one.

A court may also order the convicted driver to complete an alcohol or drug treatment program at their own expense.

For a second or subsequent conviction within a five-year period – either in Rhode Island or another state – the driver must serve up to 20 years in a state prison and pay as much as $20,000 in fines. Their license also gets revoked for five years, and they’ll have to go through the same process of meeting requirements before they can reapply for a new license.

Drunk driving is deadly, and intoxicated drivers who cause a fatal accident can face severe punishments normally reserved for more serious crimes. Anyone facing charges should carefully plan their defense because a court doesn’t take death lightly, even an accidental one.