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What Is Considered Vehicular Homicide Under NJ Law?


Vehicular homicide occurs when a driver’s reckless operation of a motor vehicle results in the death of another individual. Reckless driving is the operation of a motor vehicle with conscious disregard for human life with substantial risk to the public. While this recklessness is often associated with impaired driving, an individual does not need to be under the influence to be charged vehicular homicide. Driving behaviors such as racing or operating at extreme speeds can also be evidence of reckless driving. Vehicular homicide is sometimes referred to as death by auto or felony DUI.

How Do Police Determine Who Has Been Negligent or Reckless in Vehicular Homicide Cases?

Recklessness is determined by the totality of the circumstances. The mere existence of an accident resulting in death is insufficient to charge the operator with vehicular homicide. Recklessness is determined based on the driving behavior or impairment of the operator responsible for the accident.

If I Am Charged With Vehicular Homicide, Will I Be Able To Get Out On Bond Or Bail While Awaiting My Case?

Pre-trial detention for indictable offenses is now governed by the Criminal Justice Reform Act. In most cases cash bail is no longer an option to avoid incarceration while awaiting trial, but a defendant is entitled to a detention hearing where he can argue for his release. Some factors a judge will consider are the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and the likelihood of the defendant’s reappearance. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be prepared to argue for the pre-trial release of their client.

What Is The Penalty If I Am Convicted Of Vehicular Homicide In NJ?

Vehicular homicide is usually charged as a second-degree indictable offense. This type of offense carries penalties of between five- and ten-years’ incarceration and fines up to $150,000. If the offense took place in a school zone, or if impairment by drugs or alcohol is involved, the offense could be charged in the first degree. These penalties include incarceration for ten to twenty years. A conviction for vehicular homicide includes mandatory minimum incarceration for either three years or a third of their sentence.

What Are New Jersey’s Procedures for BAC Testing After An Accident?

New Jersey law requires the operator of a motor vehicle to consent to a breath test if an operator has a reasonable belief that the operator is under the influence of alcohol. In the event that the officer believes the operator is under the influence of drugs, or where the driver cannot give a breath test as a result of the accident, the officer will request consent to take a blood or urine sample. If consent is not given the officer will request a warrant for blood or urine based on probable cause.

What Are Some Defense Strategies for Vehicular Homicide Cases Involving Alcohol?

The defenses to a charge of vehicular homicide revolve around disputing the alleged reckless driving. This may entail disputing the alleged reckless driving or in disputing the allegation that the operator was under the influence at the time of the accident. A defense to charge for vehicular homicide is fact specific, and an experienced criminal defense attorney will know what defense to mount based on your case.

For more information on Vehicular Homicide Charges In New Jersey, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (908) 210-9755 today.

The Law Offices of James A. Abate LLC

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