In 2020, there were 11,654 deaths in the USA caused by drunk driving. This figure represents a 14% increase in the number of deaths. Based on these statistics, it is safe to say that every 45 minutes, someone in the USA dies due to drunk driving.
The above figures denote the dire situation regarding DUI cases in the USA and globally too. A DUI case that involves vehicular homicide is one whereby a driver who is under the influence of drugs kills someone in a vehicle accident.
DUI cases that involve vehicular homicide are often quite hard for the defendants and DUI lawyers while in a trial. This is because of several factors. One of the main factors that makes it a hard case for the defendant is the fact that every person blames the driver for murder without even looking at the facts.
The cases are also hard to navigate for defendants and their DUI lawyers because DUI cases with vehicular homicide often have other traffic criminal offenses. The other criminal offenses that can be tied to a vehicular homicide case include reckless driving, ignoring road signs, etc.
As a defendant, you must plan your case well to grant you a chance of getting a shorter sentence or proving innocence. This article highlights the steps you should make as a defendant in a DUI case involving vehicular homicide.
1. Get an Experienced Attorney
Similar to other legal battles, the attorney you choose to represent you has a huge implication on your overall success or loss in the trial. In a DUI case involving vehicular homicide, you ought to hire the best attorney, who is skilled in such cases.
It is not advisable to work with a general attorney on such a critical case. This is because the attorney’s lack of knowledge and experience with such cases can put you behind bars for a long while.
When hiring an attorney for your DUI case that involves vehicular homicide, consider the lawyer’s experience and past success rate. Have a look at the previous cases handled by the attorneys and decide whether you feel they will represent you well.
You should also consider the attorney’s legal fees and ensure they are within your budget. This is because such cases can be on trial for months or years, and this will cause legal fees to pile up.
2. Sobriety Test
When the police arrive at an accident scene for a DUI case involving vehicular homicide, they first carry out a sobriety test. The sobriety tests are meant to assess the driver’s performance, responsiveness, and alertness and can be used in the trial as evidence for a DUI case.
Once you have hired your attorney, they should go through the sobriety test. This is because in some cases, the accidents are not often attributed to DUI but rather something else that might not have been in the driver’s control. In such cases, even if the driver was not under the influence when driving, the accident would have happened.
Your attorney should also analyze the sobriety test to find any step that was not done as instructed or as per the guidebook. Finding such faults in the sobriety test can render it inadmissible in court in the best case, or it can be used as a key to getting a deal.
When analyzing the sobriety test and the police who undertook it, pay keen concern to whether the police asked about the defendant’s condition. In most cases, police often fail to pay attention to the defendant and whether they were hurt and this compromises the quality of the test in cases where the defendant was hurt.
3. Gather and Store Required Evidence
In many DUI cases, other factors that contributed to the accident occurring are often overlooked. This is because people tend to be biased toward the victims. This compromises the quality of the case proceedings since the defendant can get unjust prosecution.
DUI lawyers must analyze DUI cases well. The attorney should gather all evidence required for trial and go through it. The evidence required to prove your innocence can include footage of the victim ignoring a green traffic light, evidence of the victim engaging in unsafe pedestrian practices, etc.
Failure of your attorney to find evidence that proves your innocence might get you behind bars for an action that was not your doing. This is why you should hire skilled, detail-oriented, and experienced DUI lawyers. .
4. Communicate with Witnesses and Prepare Them
Once you have gathered and stored enough evidence to show that you did not cause the accident and death of the victim, you should now find witnesses. Witnesses can include people who were in shops, houses or path walks near the crime scene when the accident happened.
The first people to arrive at the crime scene can also be witnesses. Get your attorney to interview all witnesses and record their recounts of the incident. Identify the witnesses who saw the victim’s or any other person or factor’s contribution to the occurrence of the accident.
Once you have identified such witnesses, get your attorney to prepare them on how they should answer the questions during trial.
5. Challenge Outrageous Accusations
It is not rare to hear of incidences whereby prosecutors charge vehicular homicide incidences as first or second-degree murder cases. If you have such a case made against you, get your attorney to counter it. Having a first-degree murder charge implies that you had the intention to kill the victim which is often not the case in DUI cases.
Prosecutors who charge one with a second-degree murder charge often do this to imply that you have a disregard for human life. However, making this assumption since you were driving under the influence introduces a logical error in reasoning. Challenge this charge in trial by explaining this to the jury.
Indeed, DUI cases that involve vehicular homicide are often tough to navigate as a defendant, and they attract a lengthy sentence. However, that does not mean you cannot defend yourself and aim to reduce your sentence or prove your innocence in cases whereby the accident was not your doing. Following the above-discussed points will improve your chances of succeeding in the trial.