Vehicular Manslaughter [Opinion from Experienced Lawyer]

Regina Criminal Defence Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Law > Vehicular Manslaughter [Opinion from Experienced Lawyer]
Vehicular Manslaughter

Do you know what is vehicular manslaughter? Well, if you don’t, you are in the right place you should be. We are going to explain exactly what you need to know about it. Without further due, let’s begin. Driving heavy vehicles on the road is always risky. You never know when a little distraction can cause a severe accident. What happens when you kill someone from that accident?

Such an incident is considered vehicular manslaughter. You can be charged with severe punishment for a vehicle accident, causing death to someone else.

Just like murder, manslaughter is a serious crime. If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter, you must seek lawyer support as soon as possible to fight the legal battle.

Before that, this article will solely focus on providing a basic yet detailed understanding of manslaughter caused by vehicle accidents.

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Before we dive deep into the topic, you need to understand what vehicular manslaughter means. Manslaughter is a form of homicide. A homicide is considered manslaughter when there is no preplan, motivation, and intention to kill a person or a group of people. Even so, manslaughter is almost similarly dangerous as murder.

When a person drives recklessly that causes deaths of pedestrians, passengers, or occupants of another car, that driver can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter can be justified when the driver is driving under substance influence, recklessly, or illegally.

An accident is almost always unintentional and unexpected. As a result, drivers unintentionally killing someone for their reckless and negligent driving can be charged with a manslaughter crime.

Classification of Vehicular Manslaughter

The severity of the penalties for vehicular manslaughter will depend on the type of crime committed. There can be 3 classifications or seriousness of the crime a driver can commit.

Vehicular Manslaughter from Unlawful Behavior

Unlawful behaviour includes either committing a misdemeanour or a felony. Among the two, a misdemeanour is a less severe crime than a felony.

Committing a misdemeanour means that you have been seriously negligent of other people’s lives. This further refers to the fact that you may have had enough opportunities to avoid the collision but ended up being reckless or negligent towards human life. This chain of thought could have caused the accident and ended up killing someone.

On the other hand, a felony is a violent act of crime. In the aspect of vehicular collision, felony charges can be brought against you when you deliberately drove recklessly from an outside influence. This can be from your co-passenger or drug abuse.

Vehicular Manslaughter from Ordinary Negligence

Ordinary negligence during driving can be considered less severe. Therefore, manslaughter charges brought against you could be misdemeanour charges.

Ordinary negligence involves taking your eyes off the road, resetting the seat, or even changing the song in the car stereo system. As you can see, these distractions are not serious. However, the accident that caused death to a person from such acts will be considered vehicular manslaughter.

Vehicular Manslaughter from Gross Negligence

This is the most severe form of vehicular manslaughter. It involves the most reckless and outrageous accident fatality that could have only happened due to extreme recklessness.

Such acts include complete disregard for human life. The driver had no care for a person’s life and ended up being entirely negligent. This involved being under the alcoholic influence or extreme rage that drove the desire to kill someone unintentionally.

Vehicular Manslaughter Sentence in Canada

Different type of vehicular manslaughter has different penalties carried out against them. In addition, the different state passes different sentences according to their legal system.

If a driver is charged with ordinary negligence, he or she may not face extreme penalties. There could still be some jail time and some form of a monetary fine.

On the other hand, unlawful behaviour can bring many extreme charges. This includes several years of imprisonment and a high amount of money to settle the charges. Moreover, gross negligence can even include death penalties as well if appropriately proven.

In Canada, vehicular manslaughter is punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanour. The kind of action that led to the accident is then seen as negligence or illegal action. How long may you potentially spend in prison if you are found guilty of impaired driving causing death?

Minimum Sentence for Vehicular Manslaughter in Canada:

In Canada, there is no set minimum sentence for manslaughter. However, if careless driving led to the murder, the punishment is a 2-year jail sentence and a fine of $2,000 to $50,000.

Maximum Sentence for Vehicular Manslaughter in Canada:

In Canada, involuntary vehicular manslaughter is a second-degree crime. A conviction for a crime like this carries a potential 10-year prison sentence. It is a non-parole sentence as well.

Remember that the prosecution must provide strong evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution must prove that the defendant was aware of the risk and disregarded it.

One may argue that they were not aware of the danger. Because criminally negligent murder is not as serious a crime as vehicular manslaughter, they will attempt to reduce the case to that level.

5 Factors Driving the Charges of Vehicular Manslaughter

Five crucial factors can trigger the charges brought against a driver for vehicular manslaughter. These can also affect the penalties and sentences for the driver.

Common Negligence While Driving

As mentioned already, the kind of negligence you show while driving will affect the manslaughter charges. If you are careless of another human life, there is no doubt that you will be sentenced to extreme punishment.

However, ordinary negligence such as being distracted for a split second, doing something normal in the car while driving, or even fixing the radio or the seat can make your case easier.

Driving Under Intoxication

One of the most common reasons behind vehicle accidents is driving while intoxicated. This includes substance abuse that can jeopardize a person’s regular thinking capacity.

Alcohol consumption is another form of intoxication. Drivers driving under such influences will be charged for death on highway roads.

Recklessness and Criminal Negligence

Criminal negligence is much more severe than common negligence. This involves having no care for human life. The driver is so careless and reckless that he or she feels no guilt of killing another person due to a road accident.

A scenario where the driver drove at an exceedingly high speed with a high blood alcohol level and ended up taking a person’s life will surely face extreme charges.

Falling Asleep While Driving

Many road accidents occur due to the driver falling asleep or feeling drowsy while driving. While this can be a typical situation while driving, killing someone due to such a condition can bring manslaughter charges.

Especially when the driver was negligent about his or her daily sleep routine. For instance, the driver could have been awake all night or worked all day before driving at night. This can bring serious charges in front of the driver responsible for the death of a person.

Violating Safety Protocols and Legal Rules

Finally, proving the driver’s negligence in following safety protocols and traffic rules can also bring serious charges against the driver.

Taking wrongful U-turns, driving in a no-sign road, not following a red light, and many other violations can be dangerous for the driver and any other person. These are some classic examples of reckless driving.

Charging a Non-driver for Vehicular Manslaughter

In most cases, it is two drivers who could be responsible for the collision. Perhaps you were driving fast, but the car coming from the opposite direction was fast too. Both the drivers can sort things out in a civil context.

However, it is rare to share negligence in a criminal context. In almost every situation, one of the two drivers will be held guilty by the jury.

Another scenario where the driver may not be found guilty is when the co-driver or a non-driver is at fault. For instance, suppose a person was jaywalking. That person has violated every traffic rule in the book and caused the driver to make a wrong turn.

As a result, someone gets hit and dies on the spot. If proven properly, that pedestrian can be held responsible for the accident. However, the driver must not be under any intoxication or reckless and negligent behaviour.

Compensation for Vehicular Manslaughter in Canada

The surviving family member may file a claim for compensation with the help of a murder lawyer if the court determines that the death was the result of vehicular manslaughter. The family member may be eligible for certain damages depending on the circumstances. She/he has the right to –

  • Either all or some of his medical expenses may be covered. This includes an emergency ambulance, medical bills, hospitalization, and other accident-related costs.
  • He will receive compensation if he can prove that he has lost his companion and business.
  • He has a claim for lost earnings and benefits as well. These will include any insurance benefits and other benefits due to the deceased.
  • Funeral and burial costs for the victim must also be covered.
  • Inconvenience benefits, such as house maintenance, daycare, or home maintenance costs, are also due to the victim’s family members.
  • There is nothing that can compare to the victim’s level of pain and suffering. However, the family may also be entitled to financial compensation for this.

Possible Defence against Vehicular Manslaughter

The most common defence against vehicular manslaughter cases includes excluding evidence that can make someone look guilty. For instance, the defendant can claim that evidence like blood alcohol level to be excluded as it violates his or her constitutional rights.

Moreover, the defendant can prepare an argument claiming that the intoxication level was not a primary cause of the accident. The best argument in such cases would be to provide pieces of evidence where an outside force was more responsible for the accident and the death of a person.

Furthermore, the defendant can present medical documents that demonstrate the intoxication or drug level as a medical condition. However, this also can undermine the defendant’s ability to drive a car. Therefore, you can still be charged with negligence.

Difference between Vehicular manslaughter vs Vehicular homicide

Vehicular Homicide

Drivers who are negligent or speed in a construction zone and result in someone’s death will be charged with vehicular homicide. The main element the court will consider when defining the offence as vehicular homicide is negligence. Usually, this occurs when a driver makes a serious mistake out of carelessness rather than bad intentions.

As a first-degree murder, vehicular homicide is normally penalized by:

  • Prison time of up to six months
  • $1,000 in maximum fines
  • One to five years suspension of the license

Vehicular Manslaughter

When a driver accidentally kills someone else while engaging in a minor traffic violation, such as speeding or running a red light, it is considered vehicular manslaughter.

As s second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter is normally penalized by:

  • Prison time of up to 9 days
  • 750-dollar maximum fine
  • Three months to two years suspension of the license

Frequently Asked Questions: Vehicular Manslaughter

People often feel confusing about vehicular manslaughter. As a result, they ask a lot of questions on different social platforms. Besides those, we are getting many questions from our clients and a lot of people who read our blogs. So, we have prepared a dedicated section to answer all those questions people are asking most frequently. Let’s check them and get what you need to know about vehicular manslaughter.

What Kind of Crime is Vehicular Manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter is a Class C felony. It is a form of vehicular homicide that can either be a misdemeanour or a felony.

Is Killing Someone in a Car Accident Manslaughter?

Suppose your negligent and reckless driving causes the death of a person from a vehicle accident. In that case, that will be determined as vehicular manslaughter.

What Happens If You Commit Vehicular Manslaughter?

If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter, you will be put upon a jury to determine your fault. The whole case will move to court for necessary proofs and evidence presentation. You can be punished with jail time and/or a monetary fine.

Which is Worse Vehicular Homicide or Manslaughter?

In most states, vehicular manslaughter is also known as vehicular homicide. However, manslaughter, in general, is a less serious form of homicide.

How Many Years Do You Get for Vehicular Manslaughter?

Depending on the seriousness of the crime, vehicular manslaughter can get you from 4 to 12 years of imprisonment.


If you are charged with vehicular manslaughter, it is crucial to seek lawyer support as soon as possible. Being charged with such a serious criminal Act can take you through every complexity of a legal case.

An experienced and skillful lawyer can fight your battle. Charges brought against you could be extremely severe as manslaughter is a horrible crime. A lawyer can provide you with options with less serious sentences. Call us for experienced legal support at +1 (306) 848-7777, if you are charged with a vehicular manslaughter case.