Ohio Vehicular Manslaughter Laws

In Ohio, the term "vehicular homicide" is often used to generally describe an offense in which someone causes the death of another person with a motor vehicle. Ohio law actually has three separate offenses:

  1. Vehicular Manslaughter
  2. Vehicular Homicide
  3. Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

Unlike a murder charge, a vehicular homicide charge means that a person had no intention of killing another, but due to their actions while operating a vehicle, caused the death of a human being.

Even if a person is charged with a vehicular homicide crime in criminal court and is acquitted, the deceased’s family may file a wrongful death claim in civil court.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Ohio's vehicular homicide laws. See also Involuntary Manslaughter Definitions, Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentences, and Voluntary Manslaughter.

Code Sections

Vehicular Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide and Aggravated Vehicular Homicide: Ohio Revised Statute 2903.04

A.K.A.

"Vehicular Homicide"

What is Prohibited?

Vehicular Manslaughter: Causing the death of another person or their unborn child while operating a motor vehicle as the result of a misdemeanor traffic violation.

Vehicular Homicide: While operating a vehicle, you caused the death of another person in one of the following ways: (1) negligently; or (2) as the proximate result of committing a speeding offense in a construction zone.

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide: You caused the death of another person in one of the following ways: (1) as a proximate result of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs; (2) recklessly; or (3) as the proximate result of committing a reckless operation offense in a construction zone.

Penalty

Vehicular Manslaughter :

  • Second degree misdemeanor, Up to 90 days in jail and a mandatory driver's license suspension for six months to three years
  • Elevated to a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, if either of the following apply: (1) driving with no license or suspended license; (2) prior conviction for Vehicular Homicide or any traffic-related homicide, manslaughter, or assault offense.

Vehicular Homicide : (Depends on how the crime occurred)

  • Negligence: First degree misdemeanor, Up to six months in jail and a mandatory license suspension for one year to five years.
  • Speeding in a construction zone: First degree misdemeanor, Up to six months in jail (with a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 15 days) and a mandatory license suspension for one year to five years.
  • Suspended License or prior conviction for Vehicular Homicide or any traffic-related homicide, manslaughter, or assault offense : Fourth degree felony, Up to 18 months in prison and license suspension anywhere from two (2) years to life.

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide : (Depends on how the crime occurred)

  • Driving Under the Influence : Second degree felony, mandatory prison term of two (2) years to eight (8) years, as well as a mandatory license suspension for life.
  • Suspended License or prior conviction for Vehicular Homicide or Vehicular Assault: First degree felony, punishable by 11-15 years in prison, possible lifetime driver's license suspension.
  • Recklessly Operating a Motor Vehicle : Third degree felony, includes a prison term of one year to five years, mandatory license suspension for three years to life.
Civil Case Possible Wrongful Death lawsuit and restitution to the victim's family.
Definition of "Vehicle"

Motor vehicle, motorcycle, snowmobile, locomotive, watercraft, or aircraft

If you do find yourself facing an involuntary manslaughter charge, you may wish to contact an Ohio criminal defense attorney for assistance.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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