When a driver in New Jersey is accused of killing another person while operating under the influence, most people know that the driver may face a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. However, a person in this situation also may be charged with a criminal offense and could face the consequences of a felony conviction.
Motorists suspected of intoxicated manslaughter can be charged under New Jersey’s death by auto law. If the prosecution can prove that a defendant drove an automobile or vessel recklessly and can also prove that this caused the death of another person, the defendant could be convicted of death by auto.
What does it mean to drive recklessly? A person behaves recklessly when he or she consciously disregards a substantial risk. In addition, a person drive recklessly when his or her actions are a gross deviation from those of a reasonable person, acting with ordinary care. Intoxicated driving is considered to be a form of reckless driving under the law.
If a driver is convicted of death by auto, they face a prison sentence of five to 10 years. They also can be fined up to $150,000. Further, their driver’s license could be suspended for five years or more. They could even be given a lifetime driver’s license suspension.
Given these very strict penalties, anyone in New Jersey who is accused of death by auto should take action to protect their rights. In order to be convicted of any criminal offense, the prosecution must prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal defense attorneys are familiar with the law, possible defenses and other options.