As the name suggests, a vehicular assault is a crime involving a car. In this type of criminal law, a person harms or threatens to harm another while driving a vehicle. The prosecution will usually charge this offense alongside another type of driving offense. Such offenses include DUI, reckless driving and driving without a valid license. Vehicular homicide laws can vary depending on the jurisdiction.
Regulations on Vehicular Assault
States differ on whether a specific statute addresses vehicular assault. Some jurisdictions use vehicular assault as an aggravating factor. In such a scenario, there must be an underlying injury related to another offense. Thus, vehicular assault is not a crime, but an addition to the primary traffic violation.
Some states charge vehicular assault as its own distinct offense. These states include Oregon, New York and Delaware among others. Utah does not have a separate statute covering vehicular assault. In states with a statute, the prosecutor can charge the crime by itself. Yet, it usually follows a DUI case due to the danger of the activity.
How Vehicular Manslaughter Differs
The main difference between assault and manslaughter is the extent of the injury. When the victim dies as the result of the defendant's actions it is a vehicular manslaughter. Utah Code Section 76-5-204 addresses vehicular manslaughter. It allows for the filing of the offense when reckless driving leads to a death, or as a lesser charge of murder. In Utah, a vehicular manslaughter is a second degree felony. This means upon conviction, a defendant can spend up to 15 years in prison.
Defenses to Vehicular Assault
One popular defense in a vehicular assault case is involuntary intoxication. This is a defense that can negate the intent element of vehicular assault. In essence, the defendant argues that he or she became unwillingly intoxicated and did not intend to do the crime. Whether this defense is appropriate depends on the facts of your case. Consult with an experienced attorney for more information about the available defenses.
If you need assistance with a criminal law matter, contact Spencer and Jensen, PLLC. The law firm can help defend you in cases involving felonies or misdemeanors.