Vehicular homicide

Vehicular homicide is a crime that involves the death of a person other than the driver as a result of either criminally negligent or murderous operation of a motor vehicle.

In cases of criminal negligence, the defendant is commonly charged with unintentional vehicular manslaughter.

Vehicular homicide is similar to the offense, in some countries, of "dangerous driving causing death."

The victim may be either a person not in the car with the offending motorist (such as a pedestrian, cyclist, or another motorist), or a passenger in the vehicle with the offender.[1]



The Criminal Code does not have a specific offence for vehicular homicide, but has a series of provisions covering driving offences causing death,[2] among them:

  • dangerous driving causing death
  • criminal negligence causing death
  • failure to stop for police causing death
  • street racing causing death
  • impaired driving causing death
  • hit and run driving causing death

The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death, absent any of the remaining 5 elements mentioned above, is 14 years' imprisonment.[3] The maximum penalty is otherwise life imprisonment. Anyone sentenced to life imprisonment for a Criminal Code driving offence is eligible to apply for parole after serving 7 years, but there is no guarantee of parole.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, there is no offense of "vehicular homicide". Where a vehicle has been used as a weapon as part of a deliberate assault; and the intention was to kill or cause serious injury; and that assault resulted in the death of the victim then the driver may be charged with murder contrary to the Common Law.

Where death is the result of driving that falls short of a deliberate assault, the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 88) governs the disposal of the case.[4] The offenses created by this act relating to road deaths are as follows ...

  • "Causing death by dangerous driving" - Section 1 RTA 88, the only points for the prosecution to prove are that death was caused and the driver of the vehicle that caused the death was driving dangerously.
  • "Causing death by careless, or inconsiderate, driving" - Section 2B RTA 88, deals with cases similar in scope to Section 1 but while the standard of the driving remains reprehensible the lapse(s) alleged are considered to fall short of being actually dangerous.
  • "Causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers" - Section 3ZB RTA 88, it is a requirement under UK law for the drivers of motor vehicles to be properly licensed and for them to hold third party insurance for their vehicle. This section was inserted to the RTA 88 to deal with road death cases where there was no provable lapse in driving standards but nevertheless the driver should not in law have been driving.
  • and "Causing death by careless driving while unfit through alcohol/over prescribed limit", Section 3A RTA 88

The RTA 88 introduced the simple concept of dangerousness by removing the offence of "reckless driving" as the concept of recklessness in UK law requires a mens rea. This had been difficult to prove in court. C. M. V. Clarkson, an advocate of a vehicular homicide offense, opines that while people's perceptions are that death resulting from a motor vehicle is in a different "family" to other killings, "in terms of fault there can be little distinction between those who kill through the dangerous operation of their cars and those who kill with machines, trains, etc."[5][6]

In addition to the above there also exists the option of charging offenders with causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving.

Originally framed in the era of horse-drawn vehicles this legislation is now applied where offences involving motorised vehicles take place outside the provisions of the Road Traffic Act (on private land, when driving off-road or in pedestrianised areas) and in the small number of serious cases involving non-motorised collisions such as the few that involve cyclists and result in severe injury or loss of life, typically of pedestrians.

United States

The definition and penalties of vehicular manslaughter in the United States vary by state.

All states except Alaska, Montana, and Arizona have vehicular homicide statutes. The laws have the effect of making a vehicle a potentially deadly weapon, to allow for easier conviction and more severe penalties; in states without such statutes, defendants can still be charged with manslaughter or murder in some situations.[7]

In the Model Penal Code, there is no distinction between vehicular homicide and vehicular homicides that involve negligence; instead, both are included in the overall category of negligent homicide.[8][9]


In the state of California, depending on the degree of recklessness and whether alcohol was involved, a person could be charged with progressively more serious offenses: vehicular manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or second-degree murder. In any of these cases, the prosecution must prove that the driver committed some wrongful act (which could be a felony, a misdemeanor, an infraction, or a lawful act that might cause death) and that the wrongful act caused the collision and the death of the victim. Murder charges are usually reserved for the most egregious cases, such as a convicted DUI offender who drives recklessly while intoxicated and thereby causes a fatal collision.


In the state of Georgia, vehicular homicide is more properly known as homicide by vehicle. It is defined, by statute, as the unlawful killing of another person using a vehicle. To be guilty of the offense, the perpetrator does not have to have an intent to kill, malice aforethought, or premeditation.[10]

There are two degrees of vehicular homicide:

First degree homicide by vehicle
This is a felony that, upon conviction, will result in a sentence of between 3 and 15 years of imprisonment (or between 5 and 20 years for habitual violators), with no parole for at least 1 year. A homicide is first degree homicide by vehicle if the driver "unlawfully met or overtook a school bus; unlawfully failed to stop after a collision; was driving recklessly; was driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; failed to stop for, or otherwise was attempting to flee from, a law enforcement officer; or had previously been declared a habitual violator".[10]
Second degree homicide by vehicle
This is a misdemeanor that, upon conviction, will result in a sentence of up to 1 year (which may be suspended), a fine of up to US$1,000, or both. Second degree homicide by vehicle encompasses all other homicides by vehicle, involving any other violation of the laws governing motor vehicles, that are not classed as first degree homicides.[10]


In the state of Louisiana, vehicular homicide is defined as the killing of a human being while operating a motor vehicle, or other means of conveyance, under the influence of alcohol and/or controlled substances. The minimum punishment is a fine of at least $2,000 (not more than $15,000) and 5–30 years in prison.

The law is LSA RS 14:32.1.


In the state of Minnesota, vehicular homicide is one of the six levels of criminal vehicular operation, and is defined as causing the death of a person, that does not constitute murder or manslaughter, as a result of operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner, or in a negligent manner while in violation of the driving while intoxicated law, or where the driver flees the scene in violation of the felony fleeing law.[11] Vehicular homicide in Minnesota requires, at a minimum, a mens rea of gross negligence.[12]


Vehicular homicide in Washington state, is governed by RCW 46.61.520 Vehicular homicide—Penalty.[13]

(1) When the death of any person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury proximately caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person, the driver is guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver was operating a motor vehicle:
a While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502; or
b In a reckless manner; or
c With disregard for the safety of others.
(2) Vehicular homicide is a class A felony punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW, except that, for a conviction under subsection (1)(a) of this section, an additional two years shall be added to the sentence for each prior offence as defined in RCW 46.61.5055.


A study by professors at Dartmouth College and Harvard University found that those convicted of vehicular homicide are given, on average, shorter sentences than those found guilty of other types of homicide. The study found that the gender of the offender does not statistically affect the length of the sentence, but the race does. The identity of the victim is a more important predictor of sentencing length, with longer sentences given to offenders in cases where the victim was female and/or had no violent criminal record.[1]

Some states, such as Minnesota, have statutes allowing for a charge of a vehicular homicide if an unborn child is killed or injured by a motorist.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b Sacerdote, Bruce; Glaeser, Edward (2003). "Sentencing in Homicide Cases and the Role of Vengeance". Journal of Legal Studies. 32 (2): 363–382. doi:10.1086/374707.
  2. ^ Quebec: Société de l'assurance automobile, Criminal Code Offences.
  3. ^ Branch, Legislative Services. "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Criminal Code".
  4. ^ UK Gvt. "The Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended)". HMSO. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  5. ^ "c.52 §1". Road Traffic Act 1988. Office of Public Sector Information. 1988.
  6. ^ C.M.V. Clarkson (2000). "Context and culpability in involuntary manslaughter: Principle or instinct?". In Andrew Ashworth; Barry Mitchell (eds.). Rethinking English Homicide Law. Oxford University Press. pp. 148–150, 164. ISBN 0-19-829915-X.
  7. ^ "The Facts: Vehicular Homicide and the Impaired Driver". United States Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  8. ^ John M. Scheb II & John Malcolm Scheb (2001). An Introduction to the American Legal System. Thomson Delmar Learning. p. 120. ISBN 0-7668-2759-3.
  9. ^ Michael Hooper; M. A. Dupont-Morales & Judy H. Schmidt (2001). Handbook of Criminal Justice Administration. Marcel Dekker. p. 177. ISBN 0-8247-0418-5.
  10. ^ a b c Allen M. Trapp, Jr., P.C. (2004). "Vehicular Homicide Laws". Archived from the original on 2007-01-01.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b James Cleary & Joseph Cox. "A Brief Overview of Minnesota's DWI Laws: Minnesota Statutes Chapter 169A and Related Laws" (PDF). Minnesota Impaired Driving Facts Report. Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
  12. ^ "609.21 Criminal Vehicular Homicide and Injury". Office of the Revisor of Statutes, State of Minnesota. 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  13. ^ "RCW 46.61.520: Vehicular homicide—Penalty".

External links

2001 Isla Vista killings

On February 23, 2001, a vehicular homicide and assault occurred in the student community of Isla Vista, California, near the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus. Four people were killed and a fifth, who suffered critical injuries, died in October 2016. The driver, David Attias, was ruled legally insane and sentenced to 60 years in a mental institution. In September 2012 the court approved Attias' conditional release into a monitored program.

3 Doors Down

3 Doors Down is an American rock band from Escatawpa, Mississippi, that formed in 1996. The band originally consisted of Brad Arnold (lead vocals, drums), Matt Roberts (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Todd Harrell (bass guitar). The band rose to international fame with their first single, "Kryptonite", which placed in the top three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The band then signed with Republic Records and released their debut album, The Better Life, in 2000. The album was the 11th-best-selling album of the year and was certified 6x platinum in the United States. The group was later joined by drummer Richard Liles, who played during the tour for their first album.

The band's second album, Away from the Sun (2002), continued the band's success; it debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart, went multi-platinum in the U.S. like its predecessor, and spawned the hits "When I'm Gone" and "Here Without You". The band toured extensively for two years. Daniel Adair played drums on tour from 2002 to 2006. This configuration played nearly 1,000 shows across the world following the release of Away from the Sun. In 2005, Greg Upchurch (Puddle of Mudd) joined to play drums to replace Adair. 3 Doors Down released their third album, Seventeen Days, in 2005. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum within one month of release. Their fourth album, 3 Doors Down (2008), also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band's fifth studio album, Time of My Life (2011) debuted at No. 3 on the charts.

Original guitarist Matt Roberts departed in 2012, owing to health issues. He was replaced by Chet Roberts, who was formerly Henderson's guitar tech. Harrell was fired from the band in 2013 after being charged with vehicular homicide, and was replaced by bassist Justin Biltonen. 3 Doors Down has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.

Audie Pitre

Audie Thomas Pitre (October 5, 1970 – January 23, 1997) was an American bass guitarist. He also added back-up vocals in Acid Bath (1991–1997) and formed another band known as Shrüm (or simply SHRUM) (1995). Pitre formed Shrüm with the idea to have two bass players, himself and Joseph J. Fontenot, to create a heavy, low-end bass sound with Tomas Viator on electronic drums and Scott Leger on vocals. Shrüm's only album to date is Red Devils & Purple Ringers.

In January 1997, Audie Pitre and his parents, Nora and Kermit, were killed when they were hit head-on by a drunk driver on the Bourg-Larose Highway in Louisiana. His brother, Kelly Pitre, was also in the car and survived the crash. The driver was convicted of three counts of vehicular homicide. Audie is survived by his son, Audie Layne, born July 1997.Acid Bath disbanded in 1997 after Pitre’s death.

Brake test

A brake test, also known as a brake check, occurs when a driver deliberately brakes very hard in front of another driver who is tailgating, causing the second driver to swerve or otherwise react quickly to avoid an accident. Often, a brake check also refers to simply pressing the brakes hard enough to activate the brake lights, signaling to the other driver that an increased space cushion is needed.

Brake testing and tailgating are examples of aggressive driving, and both may be punishable as vehicular assault, careless or reckless driving, or vehicular homicide if death occurs.

Because of the aggressive and dangerous nature of this move in motor sports, a driver who makes such a move is often penalized. Penalties given for such actions can vary from time penalties, to exclusion from a race or event.

Causing death by dangerous driving

Causing death by dangerous driving is a statutory offence in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is an aggravated form of dangerous driving. It is currently created by section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (as substituted by the Road Traffic Act 1991).

Charles Smith (basketball, born 1967)

Charles Edward Smith IV (born November 29, 1967) is a retired American professional basketball player who played with the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA.

Darion Conner

Darion Conner (born September 28, 1967 in Macon, Mississippi) is a former American / arena football linebacker in the National Football League and the Arena Football League. He played for eight seasons in the NFL, from 1990–1997 and seven seasons (1999–2005) in the AFL. He was drafted in the second round (28th overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He played college football at Jackson State University. He is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for DUI-manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide. However, in July 2008, an appeals court ruled that he would be given a retrial.In his career, Conner has played for the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, and Tampa Bay Storm. He is the highest NFL draft pick to ever play for the Tampa Bay Storm.

Durham School Services

Durham School Services is a school bus operator providing tendered pupil transportation throughout the United States, currently operating in 32 states. Founded in 1917 with three buses in the San Gabriel Valley, it became a subsidiary of National Express in 1999.North American sister companies are Stock Transportation in Canada and Petermann Bus in Ohio.As of September 2017, it operated 15,500 buses in 32 states.On 21 November 2016, a school bus operated by Durham was involved in an accident which left six students dead in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The driver, Johnthony K. Walker was charged with five counts of vehicular homicide. The investigation revealed that though the driver was not intoxicated, he was speeding and had strayed from the assigned route. Walker had been involved in an accident two months prior, and had his drivers license suspended in 2014 for failure to show proof of insurance.

Fatal accident reconstruction team

In certain local police departments in the United States, the Fatal Accident Reconstruction Team (F.A.R.T.) is a group of police officers dedicated to investigating motor vehicle accidents that result in death. These type of investigations can involve vehicle on vehicle, vehicle on fixed object or vehicle on pedestrian. The investigation of accidents with no survivors is of particular interest, because the detectives often have no eyewitnesses to give an account of the event. Thus the teams must rely on forensic evidence, such as tire skid marks, tire scuffmarks (yaw marks) or other tire marks to assist in determining what happened in the collision sequence. An accident with both survivors and fatalities is also of concern, because police cannot depend on the survivor(s) to accurately recount the accident. Survivors are often unconscious, incapacitated, or traumatized and thus unable to speak to police. Even if survivors are able to give a statement, their memory may not be perfect, or they may be lying to avoid charges such as vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter. In general, the teams try to determine the exact sequence of events that led to the accident, much like criminal detectives attempt to reconstruct crimes.

These departments rarely refer to their team with an acronym, because the word fart is often considered vulgar or offensive.

Joe Senser

Joseph Michael Senser (born August 18, 1956) is a former professional American football player. A 6'4", 240 lbs. tight end from West Chester University, Senser was selected in the 6th round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He ranks 3rd in Vikings history among tight ends for catches (165) and touchdowns (16), and earned a berth in the Pro Bowl after the 1981 season. He played in all 16 games in 1981, setting career highs in receptions (79), yards (1,004), yards per catch (12.7) and touchdowns (8) He was also a onetime leader in NCAA basketball statistics for field goal percentage.

Senser is a 1974 graduate of Milton Hershey School, a home for underprivileged children and the prime benefactor of Milton Hershey's legacy.

Senser was the color commentator for the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network in 1993–94 and from 2001 to 2006. He was hired by WCCO Radio to be the color commentator for University of St. Thomas football (NCAA Division III) broadcasts beginning in 2011.

Senser is part owner of Joe Senser's Restaurant & Sports Theater which has locations in Bloomington and Roseville, Minnesota. He is married with four daughters and one granddaughter. One of his daughters is singer Brittani Senser.

On August 23, 2011, a Mercedes SUV registered to Senser was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident near the Augsburg University campus in Minneapolis. On September 2, 2011, the Senser family's attorney released a statement that "the driver in this incident was Ms. Amy Senser", who is his wife. She was convicted of felony criminal vehicular homicide and sentenced to 41 months in prison.In May 2016, the state attorney general asked the Hershey Trust Company to remove Senser and two other long-serving board members. The attorney general cited "apparent violations" by the firm of a previous agreement to reform.On November 26, 2016, WCCO television news reported that Senser was undergoing physical therapy for a stroke suffered earlier in the year.

List of rampage killers (vehicular homicide)

This list of rampage killers contains those cases where only vehicles were used to attack people. Since it may be quite difficult to distinguish accidents, or cases of reckless driving from those incidents where the driver, or pilot, had the intention to harm others, only those cases are included where it is clear that the vehicle was applied as a weapon and crashed deliberately into people, other vehicles, or buildings. Also, those cases where a rampage killer used an armed vehicle, such as a tank, or a fighter aircraft, to shoot others are listed here. Airliners and Trains are not included in this section but in other incidents.

A rampage killer has been defined as follows:

A rampage involves the (attempted) killing of multiple persons least partly in public space by a single physically present perpetrator using (potentially) deadly weapons in a single event without any cooling-off period.

This list should contain every case with at least one of the following features:

Rampage killings with 6 or more dead

Rampage killings with at least 4 people killed and least ten victims overall (dead plus injured)

Rampage killings with at least 2 people killed and least 12 victims overall (dead plus injured)

An incidence of rampage killing shall not be included in this list if it does not include at least two people killed.

In all cases the perpetrator is not counted among those killed or injured.

Negligent homicide

Negligent homicide is a criminal charge brought against a person who, through criminal negligence, allows another person to die.Examples include the crash of Aeroperu Flight 603 near Lima, Peru. The accident was caused by a piece of duct tape that was left over the static ports (on the bottom side of the fuselage) after cleaning the aircraft, which led to the crash. An employee had left the tape on and was charged with negligent homicide. Other times, an intentional killing may be negotiated down to the lesser charge as a compromised resolution of a murder case, as in the case of former UFC fighter Gerald Strebendt's intentional shooting of an unarmed man after a traffic altercation.


Prolicide is the act of killing one's own offspring. The word prolicide is derived from the Latin word proles (offspring) and the suffix -cide, meaning to kill.It may refer to:


Infanticide (killing of one's infant, 0–12 months)

Neonaticide (killing of one's infant within the first 24 hours after birth)


Reggie Rogers

Reginald O'Keith Rogers (January 21, 1964 – October 24, 2013) was a professional American football defensive tackle who played four seasons in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions (1987–1988), Buffalo Bills (1991), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1992).

A consensus All-American at the University of Washington in Seattle under head coach Don James, Rogers was chosen seventh overall in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Lions. However, he only played six games of his rookie season due to a slew of emotional problems, even spending time in a counseling center. His second season in 1988 ended after only five games when his car struck another vehicle and killed three teenagers early on Thursday, October 20. He was later found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.15, the legal limit in Michigan being 0.10 at the time. The Lions waived him in July 1989, not because of the felony charges, but because he broke his neck in the collision. In 1990, he was convicted of vehicular homicide and spent 13 months in prison.Following his sentence, Rogers had brief stints with Buffalo and Tampa Bay, but was out the NFL after the 1992 season. He made his way to the Canadian Football League and played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1993–94) and one of the U.S. expansion teams, the Shreveport Pirates (1995). He played 33 games in the CFL and accumulated 18 sacks and 91 tackles in three-down football.

Rogers is often considered among the biggest draft busts in NFL history. In 2008, ESPN named him the 13th-biggest bust since the AFL-NFL merger. A year earlier, Yahoo! Sports named him the worst #7 pick since the merger.On November 26, 2008, Rogers was involved in a hit-and-run collision in Tukwila that resulted in his arrest and a charge of DUI. It was his fifth arrest for DUI in the state of Washington, dating back to his college days at UW.Rogers also played three seasons for the Husky basketball team under head coach Marv Harshman.

Richard Bokatola

Richard Bokatola-Lossombo (born 11 April 1979) is a Congolese footballer who played the majority of his career in Albania, with stints in his native Congo as well as Germany and Thailand. He was also a member of the Republic of the Congo national team and was in their 2000 African Cup of Nations squad.In 2003 while he was in Albania, he was involved in a collision involving two pedestrians where he hit the couple waiting for a bus on the side of the road with his car travelling at 60 mph, killing them both instantly. He was charged with vehicular homicide and faced a five-year jail, but he was eventually released in December and returned to playing for Vllaznia Shkodër.

Rowland Barnes

Rowland W. Barnes (April 25, 1940 – March 11, 2005) was a Fulton County, Georgia, United States, Superior Court Judge. He oversaw the 2003 trial of hockey star Dany Heatley, who was charged with vehicular homicide after the death of teammate Dan Snyder in a car accident. Judge Barnes was shot to death in his courtroom by Brian Nichols in 2005.

Spree killer

A spree killer is someone who kills two or more victims in a short time, in multiple locations. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics defines a spree killing as "killings at two or more locations with almost no time break between murders".

Time of My Life (3 Doors Down album)

Time of My Life is the fifth studio album by American rock band 3 Doors Down. It was released on July 19, 2011. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 and sold 59,800 copies in its first week of its release. The singles from the album included "When You're Young", "Every Time You Go", "What's Left", "Back to Me", and the title track "Time of My Life". It is the last album to feature Matt Roberts before his departure from the band in 2012 and his death in 2016, as well as the last for Todd Harrell before he was arrested for vehicular homicide and fired from the band in 2013. The official cover artwork was revealed on June 25, 2011. The album's track listing was revealed on July 12, 2011.

Traffic code

Traffic code (also motor vehicle code) refers to the collection of local statutes, regulations, ordinances and rules that have been officially adopted in the United States to govern the orderly operation and interaction of motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and others upon the public (and sometimes private) ways.

The traffic code generally includes provisions relating to the establishment of authority and enforcement procedures, statement of the rules of the road, and other safety provisions. Administrative regulations for driver licensing, vehicle ownership and registration, insurance, vehicle safety inspections and parking violations may also be included, though not always directly related to driving safety. Violations of traffic code (i.e., a "moving violation") are often dealt with by forfeiting a fine in response to receiving a valid citation ("getting a ticket"). Other violations, such as drunk driving or vehicular homicide are handled through the criminal courts, although there may also be civil and administrative cases that arise from the same violation (including payment of damages and loss of driving privileges). In some jurisdictions there is a separate code-enforcement branch of government that handles illegal parking and other non-moving violations (e.g., noise and other emissions, illegal equipment). Elsewhere, there may be multiple overlapping police agencies patrolling for violations of state or federal driving regulations.

Rules of the road
Road user guides
Speed limit
Moving violations
Driver licensing
Traffic violations reciprocity
Automotive safety
Road safety


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