: What is "Gross Negligence?" A: Gross negligence is defined as driving without caution and without concern for the safety of others. It means a high level of recklessness. But a charge of "vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence" may not be based merely upon driving under the influence of alcohol. Other facts must be present, for example speeding
, running traffic lights
, and/or ignoring the advice of others not to drive.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While DUI
Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the most serious DUI-related offense short of murder. The offense is charged in situations where a driver is DUI, is driving in a highly reckless manner, and the reckless driving causes the death of another person. The penalty for conviction is up to ten years of state prison (per person killed).
If the defendant has had a prior DUI (this guy did)
or has a particular reason to know the dangers of drunk driving, the prosecutor may charge second degree murder as well.
Below is an adaptation from the Judicial Council of California's jury instruction on this offense. It defines what a jury must find in order to convict a person of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated:
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:
1. The defendant drove a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (in effect, that he was DUI), or that he drove with an excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC);
2. While DUI or driving with an excessive BAC, the defendant also committed a misdemeanor or traffic infraction or otherwise lawful act that might cause death;
3. The defendant committed the misdemeanor or traffic infraction or otherwise lawful act that might cause death with gross negligence;
4. The defendant's gross negligent conduct caused the death of another person.
Gross negligence involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. A person acts with gross negligence when:
1. He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury;
2. A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk.