As a criminal defense attorney in North Charleston, South Carolina, I have experience in defending those charged with vehicular homicide. My advice, if involved in vehicular homicide, do not speak to anyone – police, EMTs, bystanders…no one. Once arrested, you are entitled to a phone call; please make that call to a criminal defense attorney. Keeping silent is your best defense until the criminal defense attorney arrives.
How Is Vehicular Homicide Define By South Carolina State Law?
When the death of a person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury received by the driving of a vehicle in reckless disregard of the safety of others, the person operating the vehicle is guilty of reckless vehicular homicide. A person who is convicted of, pleads guilty to, or pleads nolo contendere to reckless vehicular homicide is guilty of a felony, and must be fined not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both. The Department of Motor Vehicles shall revoke for five years the driver’s license of a person convicted of reckless vehicular homicide.
What Should I Expect If I Am In A Collision That Causes the Death of Another?
Initially, the officer will rely on sense of smell. Rest assured, the breathalyzer is coming next. The officer should inform you that the test is optional. If you refuse, however, your license will be suspended. Your refusal will be used against you in court, as the officer has filmed the incident from the dash camera. If you choose to take a test, you have the right to additional tests taken by a medical professional, if the tests show your blood alcohol content is .15% or higher, then your license will be suspended. Further testing may be ordered by the arresting officer such as blood and urine.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person must submit to either one or a combination of chemical tests of his breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs if there is probable cause to believe that the person violated or is under arrest for a violation of Section 56-5-2945.
Under South Carolina State Law requires a field sobriety test:
When a person is suspected of causing a motor vehicle incident resulting in the death of another person by the investigating law enforcement officer on the scene of the incident, the driver must submit to field sobriety tests if he is physically able to do so.
It is your right to refuse a field sobriety test and by refusing to perform the tests does not carry the same consequences as refusing a breathalyzer. Refusing these tests cannot be used against you during the trial but your license will be suspended by the arresting officer.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to the serious charge of vehicular homicide. The collision may have been caused alcohol, drugs, or distraction. In any case, I would strongly urge you to say nothing if arrested and contact a criminal defense attorney.