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Vehicular Homicide Laws in Minnesota

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Vehicular Homicide Laws in Minnesota


What is Vehicular Homicide?

Vehicular Homicide

Under Minnesota law, a person is guilty of criminal vehicular homicide if they cause the death of a human being as a result of operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner, while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or in violation of other specified conditions. Vehicular Homicide might also be referred to as “vehicular manslaughter,” but Vehicular Homicide is how it is referred to in Minnesota law.


The most relevant authority in regard to this offense is Section 609.2112 of the Minnesota Statutes, which defines the crime of criminal vehicular homicide and sets out the penalties for it. According to the statute, a person is guilty of criminal vehicular homicide if they cause the death of a human being as a result of operating a motor vehicle in one of eight ways: (1) in a grossly negligent manner; (2) in a negligent manner while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, cannabis, or a combination of these; (3) while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more; (4) while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving; (5) in a negligent manner while under the influence of an intoxicating substance; (6) in a negligent manner while any amount of a controlled substance is present in the person’s body; (7) where the driver leaves the scene of the collision; or (8) where the driver had knowledge of a defect in the vehicle and did not take remedial action. Minn. Stat. § 609.2112 (2023)

Intent is not one of the elements of Vehicular Homicide. People convicted on this charge had no intention to harm anyone, but their failure to exercise the proper care while driving led to a fatal accident.

Several cases discuss the application of this statute. For example, in State v. Neumiller, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a conviction of Vehicular Homicide on the grounds that the defendant’s failure to stop at a stop sign prior to driving onto a highway constituted gross negligence. State v. Neumiller, No. A23-1035 (Minn. Ct. App. May 13, 2024). In State v. Dennis-Bond, the court discussed the causation requirement for criminal vehicular homicide, noting that the state must prove that the defendant’s conduct was a “substantial factor” in causing the victim’s death. In the aforementioned case, the court affirmed a conviction of vehicular murder on the grounds that the defendant’s participation in a street race with another driver was a substantial factor in causing a fatal collision, despite the fact that defendant wasn’t the one who crashed into the victim’s vehicle. State v. Dennis Bond, No. A23-0842 (Minn. Ct. App. Apr. 29, 2024).

Legal Consequences and Penalties for Vehicular Homicide

In Minnesota, the legal consequences for a vehicular homicide offense can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Individuals charged with vehicular homicide may face severe penalties, including significant fines, loss of driving privileges, and even imprisonment. The severity of these consequences can be influenced by factors such as prior criminal history, level of negligence, and whether alcohol or drugs were involved. Generally, if you are convicted of Vehicular Homicide in Minnesota you face up to ten years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both under Minn. Stat. § 609.2112, Subd. 1(b). (2023).

Additionally, because this crime is a felony, you would become a convicted felon. A felony is the most serious level of crime in Minnesota and carries the most severe penalties. Having a felony on your record can have serious negative implications in your life, even outside the criminal justice system.

If convicted of vehicular homicide, individuals are likely to face long-lasting repercussions that can affect their personal and professional lives. Seeking legal guidance from experienced attorneys is crucial in understanding the charges against you and navigating through the complexities of the legal system to achieve the best possible outcome.

Potential Defenses for Vehicular Homicide Charges

  • Lack of Fault: One potential defense is arguing that the accused was not at fault for the accident. This could involve proving that another driver caused the collision or that it was due to a mechanical failure in the vehicle.
  • Mistake of Fact: Another defense strategy could be based on claiming a mistake of fact, such as not being aware of certain road conditions or traffic signals that led to the accident.
  • Emergency Situation: A defendant may also argue that they were faced with an emergency situation while driving, which required quick thinking and action, ultimately leading to the accident.
  • Other: Each case is unique, requiring a comprehensive analysis of the facts and circumstances as well as mitigating facts that could significantly improve ones’ ability to achieve a successful case resolution.

If you are being charged with vehicular homicide, you will need an experienced legal defense team on your side. Contact Attorney Lauren Campoli to represent you in your criminal defense case.



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