In Nebraska, the consequences of Driving Under The Influence (DUI) and causing a fatal accident are severe and unforgiving. Known as DUI motor vehicle homicide or DUI manslaughter, this serious offense can lead to years behind bars and a lasting stigma that affects every aspect of a person’s life. Below, Liberty Law Group goes over important information about this offense. This includes not only the harsh penalties that come with a conviction but also the potential for alternative sentences, the various defenses that can be used in court, and the importance of hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney to fight for the best outcome possible, given the circumstances.

DUI Lawyers in Omaha

Also known as DUI manslaughter, DUI motor vehicle homicide, is an extremely serious offense. The attorneys at Liberty Law Group are ready to help clients charged with DUI and its related charges.

If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI manslaughter, call our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

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What is DUI Motor Vehicle Homicide?

Motor vehicle homicide related to DUI in Nebraska is a serious offense that occurs when a person unintentionally causes the death of another while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Specifically, under Nebraska Revised Statutes 28-306, if the direct cause of someone’s death is the operation of a motor vehicle by a person who is violating the DUI laws (NRS 60-6,196) or driving while their license is revoked due to a prior DUI (NRS 60-6,197.06), the offense is classified as motor vehicle homicide.

There are two levels of penalties for motor vehicle homicide involving DUI, depending on the circumstances. If it is the person’s first offense, the crime is considered a Class IIA felony punishable by 0-20 years in prison. In those cases, the court is also required to impose a driving ban for the convicted individual, prohibiting them from operating any motor vehicle for a period ranging from one to fifteen years. Additionally, the person’s operator’s license will be revoked for the same duration.

If the individual has a prior conviction for a DUI offense, the charge escalates to a Class II felony punishable by 1-50 years in prison. In these cases, the court also mandates a stricter penalty, including a mandatory fifteen-year prohibition from driving and a corresponding fifteen-year revocation of the operator’s license.

The law treats motor vehicle homicide as a distinct offense, separate from any other crimes that might arise from the same incident. This means that even if other charges are brought against the individual for actions related to the incident, the motor vehicle homicide charge stands on its own and carries its own penalties and legal consequences. The orders regarding driving prohibition and license revocation are usually executed upon sentencing.

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DUI Motor Vehicle Homicide of an Unborn Child

DUI motor vehicle homicide of an unborn child in Nebraska refers to when a person unintentionally causes the death of an unborn child while operating a motor vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or driving while a license is revoked due to a prior DUI. “Unborn child” means a human being at any stage of development inside the womb. So, if a pregnant woman is involved in a DUI incident and it results in the death of her unborn child, the offense falls under this statute.

Nebraska law categorizes this offense under two main scenarios, each with its own set of penalties. Firstly, if a person, while violating DUI laws or driving with a revoked license due to a prior DUI, unintentionally causes the death of an unborn child, the crime is classified as a Class IIIA felony punishable by 0-3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine. In this case, the court will also order the convicted individual not to drive any motor vehicle for a period between 60 days and 15 years. Additionally, their driver’s license will be revoked for the same duration. Importantly, this license revocation period does not overlap with any jail term that might be imposed.

The second scenario involves a person who has a previous conviction for a DUI offense. If such an individual again violates the DUI laws leading to the death of an unborn child, the offense is elevated to a Class IIA felony punishable by 0-20 years in prison. The penalties include a prohibition from driving and license revocation for a period between 60 days and 15 years, similar to the first scenario.

It is important to note that the crime of motor vehicle homicide of an unborn child is treated as a separate and distinct offense in Nebraska.

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Main DUI Law in Nebraska

In Nebraska, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal, according to Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196. This law prohibits anyone from operating or having control over a vehicle if they drive with a BAC of 0.08% or more, measured in blood or breath. Individuals can still face DUI charges when their BAC is under the legal limit, as the officer can arrest individuals for DUI who appear (to the officer) to be drunk or otherwise intoxicated.

A standard DUI offense is usually classified as a class W misdemeanor. Nebraska also has an “implied consent” rule, meaning drivers automatically agree to undergo tests (like blood, breath, or urine tests) to detect alcohol or drugs. Refusing these tests can also lead to a class W misdemeanor charge. The classification of these offenses escalates based on prior offenses.

Penalties for DUI depend on the driver’s BAC level. A first offense typically can result in 0-60 days in jail, a $500 fine, a six-month license revocation, and the requirement of installing an ignition interlock device. Higher BAC levels (0.15% or more) or refusing the test can lead to harsher penalties, like longer license revocation. For repeat DUI offenders, penalties get more severe. These can include longer license revocation, increased fines, and mandatory minimum jail sentences.

License Suspension

In Nebraska, when someone is arrested for DUI, they face immediate consequences for their driver’s license. If they refuse a chemical test (like blood, breath, or urine) or if the test shows a high alcohol level, their license is automatically set to be revoked 15 days after their arrest. The officer informs them of this and confiscates their license, giving them a temporary one for 15 days.

They can ask for a hearing to contest this revocation, but they must do so within 10 days of their arrest. If they don’t request a hearing, or if they apply for an ignition interlock permit (which lets them drive a car with a special device that checks their breath for alcohol), they accept the revocation. The length of the revocation depends on their DUI history and whether they took the test. If they have no prior offenses and took the test, they might be eligible for an ignition interlock permit after a 15-day period. If they refuse the test, they can’t drive for an additional 90 days before applying for the permit.

Also, under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-4,182, a conviction of motor vehicle homicide carries 12 points on the individual’s driver’s license. This can result in a license revocation, where the driver has to complete a driver improvement course and meet other requirements before their license can be reinstated. During this period of revocation, the driver can apply for an employment driving permit or a medical hardship driving permit.

Collateral Consequences

The consequences of a serious DUI conviction in Nebraska, particularly one involving death, can have long-term effects on many areas of life. Having this kind of conviction on an individual’s record can make it difficult for them to get certain jobs. It can also be a problem when trying to rent a home, as many landlords check the backgrounds of potential tenants and exclude those with felony convictions. Students might face suspension or expulsion from their schools. Those seeking to become professionals could be denied admission into the profession, while those who already have professional licenses could lose them.

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Potential Defenses

One defense may be that the BAC tests were improperly administered or that the equipment used was faulty, leading to inaccurate results. A DUI lawyer might also question the training and qualifications of the personnel who conducted the tests. In some cases, it could be argued that the defendant’s physical condition or medications might have affected the BAC test results.

Another defense, particularly in the case of DUI motor vehicle homicide, involves arguing that the defendant’s actions were not the direct cause of the death. A DUI attorney might introduce evidence like traffic camera footage, witness testimonies, or accident reconstruction reports to suggest that external factors such as poor road conditions, mechanical failures, or actions of the other party were significant contributors to the incident. Expert testimony from accident reconstruction specialists can be important in establishing a different narrative to the prosecution’s claim of causation.

In cases involving an unborn child, the defense strategy would include the points mentioned above but also might involve additional medical or scientific evidence. This could include expert testimony on the cause of death of the unborn child, aiming to show that it was not directly linked to the defendant’s actions.

Legal technicalities could also serve as a defense. A lawyer might also scrutinize the process of how evidence was collected and handled, ensuring that the defendant’s legal rights were not violated during the investigation or arrest. This could include challenging the legality of a traffic stop or the procedures followed during the arrest.

Each defense strategy requires a thorough understanding of both the law and the specifics of the case.

How a DUI Lawyer Helps Individuals Charged With DUI Manslaughter

A criminal defense lawyer is especially valuable for someone facing DUI charges. Their role begins by understanding the specifics of the DUI incident, including the circumstances of the arrest, the methods used to test blood alcohol levels, and any potential violations of the client’s rights during the arrest process. The lawyer will scrutinize the evidence, such as breathalyzer test results and police reports, to identify any inaccuracies or procedural errors.

They provide advice on how to go through the legal system, including explaining the charges, potential penalties, and the legal process ahead. In court, they represent their client, challenging the prosecution’s evidence and presenting a defense that may involve questioning the accuracy of the alcohol testing, the legality of the traffic stop, or cause of death.

The lawyer also explores options outside of trial, like negotiating plea deals that might result in reduced charges or penalties. They can help their client understand the consequences of a DUI conviction, such as license suspension, fines, or mandatory alcohol education programs, and work to minimize these impacts.

Throughout the case, the lawyer maintains communication with their client, offering guidance and support. They ensure their client’s rights are upheld and aim to achieve the most favorable outcome, whether through a trial or a plea negotiation. For someone charged with DUI motor vehicle homicide, having a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a significant difference in the resolution of their case.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is DUI motor vehicle homicide in Nebraska?

Causing a death while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Will I go to jail for DUI motor vehicle homicide?

Likely, with penalties up to 20 years in prison, depending on prior offenses and circumstances.

Can I fight DUI motor vehicle homicide in court?

Yes, possible defenses include challenging BAC test accuracy and proving a lack of a link between the DUI and the victim’s death.

Will my license be suspended for DUI motor vehicle homicide in Nebraska?

Mandatory suspension for 1 to 15 years, depending on the case specifics.

Will I be able to drive even if my license gets suspended for DUI motor vehicle homicide in Nebraska?

Driving is not allowed during the suspension period, except with special permits under certain conditions.

How long will DUI motor vehicle homicide stay on my record?

It remains permanently on the criminal record.

What is the fine for DUI motor vehicle homicide?

Fines up to $10,000, depending on the severity of the offense.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test for DUI?

Refusal is possible but leads to immediate license revocation and potential enhanced penalties.

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Additional Resources

Nebraska’s Vehicular Homicide Laws: This article discusses legal definitions and potential penalties related to vehicular homicide in Nebraska. Explains that state law requires that the prosecutor prove a direct link between the defendant’s driving and the death.

Nebraska Involuntary Manslaughter Law: This article explains that unlawful killing in the state can be prosecuted under several different laws, depending on the circumstances of the death. Explains that state law divides homicide into categories, which include both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide, and discusses differences between murder and manslaughter.

Motorcyclist With Prior DUI Allegedly Commits Homicide (March 2023): This article reports on a motorcycle crash that killed the passenger and caused the motorcyclist to lose a leg from his injuries. Explains that the motorcyclist had a previous DUI conviction at the time of the fatal crash. Also notes that, if convicted, the defendant could be sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.

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Find a DUI Motor Vehicle Homicide in Omaha, Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

Our firm proudly serves Omaha in Douglas County, including Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, Fremont in Dodge County and Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County, Iowa and the surrounding areas. If you or a loved one has been charged or is under investigation for a DUI manslaughter, don’t wait, call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

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