Homicide by Motor Vehicle/ Homicide by OUI/ Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle

Homicide by Motor Vehicle

In Massachusetts, under MGL c. 90 s. 24G paragraph (b), if while operating a motor vehicle recklessly or negligently, you cause the death of another person, you can be charged with the misdemeanor offense of homicide by motor vehicle. The prosecution is not required to prove that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs- just that you were operating in a way that created a safety risk. The second way in which you can be charged and convicted under this statute is by being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating a motor vehicle, even if you obeyed all other traffic laws and were not driving negligently, if you caused the death of someone. This second way to be charged under paragraph (b) is rare, since most fatal accidents caused by an impaired driver almost always involve some form of reckless driving, and the prosecution will charge you with the felony under paragraph (a) of this statute (see below). 

If you are charged with misdemeanor homicide by motor vehicle, you face a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 30 days, up to the following potential penalties: 

  • 2 1/2 years in jail
  • $300 fine (minimum) up to $3,000 fine
  • 15 year license loss
Homicide by Motor Vehicle while under the Influence of an Intoxicating Substance

Under paragraph (a) of MGL c. 90 s. 24G, if you are operating under the influence of alcohol at the time you were negligently or recklessly operating your motor vehicle that caused the death of another, you can face a felony charge with a minimum mandatory 1 year in jail, up to the following potential penalties: 
  • 15 years in state prison
  • $5,000 fine
  • 15 year license loss (minimum) 
In order to be convicted of this offense, the prosecution must overcome all of the hurdles associated with OUI investigations.  If they cannot prove that you were operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol beyond a reasonable doubt, then you cannot be convicted of this felony charge. 

Manslaughter while Operating a Motor vehicle

In Massachusetts, if you operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, causing the death of another person, then the prosecution has another avenue to charge you with a felony. MGL c. 265 s. 13 1/2 lists essentially the same elements as homicide by motor vehicle while operating under the influence of an intoxicating substance, except under this statute you face a minimum mandatory of 5 years in state prison, up to the following potential penalties: 
  • 20 years in state prison
  • $25,000 fine
  • 15 year license loss (minimum) up to lifetime license loss
If you have been charged with any form of motor vehicle homicide or manslaughter by motor vehicle, contact our office immediately: 

(617) 830-2188

Please visit our sister website, massduidefenselawyer.com, which is dedicated exclusively to motor vehicle crimes.

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