It is no doubt a scary thing for any Virginian resident of the Harrisonburg area or another part of the Shenandoah Valley to face a DUI accusation, especially if they have no familiarity with the criminal justice system. However, facing criminal charges related to DUI can be an absolute nightmare if they come on the heels of a deadly accident. The reason is that, under such circumstances, a resident could face an involuntary manslaughter conviction, which is a felony under Virginia law.

Like other states, our state will punish drunk drivers who are involved in fatal accidents, even if they had absolutely no intention of hurting another person. All the state has to prove in order to obtain this conviction is that a motorist caused an accident and was legally under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.

The possible penalty for an involuntary manslaughter conviction is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $2,500. Moreover, in cases where police and prosecutors believe a driver acted in a particularly egregious manner, prosecutors can ask for up to 20 years in prison. In such cases, someone who is convicted must spend at least 1 year in prison without the possibility of parole or probation.

An involuntary manslaughter charge is a scary prospect because it can happen to anyone, even an otherwise upstanding citizen may have had just one too many one night and, unluckily enough and happened to be involved in an accident that may not have even been entirely their fault. In addition to a lengthy stint in jail, this sort of felony conviction can permanently derail a person’s career and ruin his or her life.