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OWI Causing Death in Michigan / DUI Manslaughter

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol already violates your obligation to keep Michigan roads safe. If you cause injury, property damage, or death as a result of your intoxication, you could be facing significant prison time and financial penalties.

Michigan’s homicide laws give prosecutors the freedom to bring felony charges against an impaired driver who causes a fatal crash, which is why you absolutely need to speak to a criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges.

If you have been arrested for DUI manslaughter or caused a fatal crash while under the influence, it is time to talk to an attorney and create a plan to protect your future. Call Davis Law Group at 313-818-3238 to set up a consultation now. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a team member reach out to you.

DUI Manslaughter Under Michigan Law

Michigan’s Vehicle Code specifically outlines illegal driving behaviors and the penalties that perpetrators may face if convicted.

There is a thin line between unintentionally causing someone’s death while driving and engaging in behavior that could be expected to cause a fatality. Everyone makes errors in judgment. You may think you have enough time to get through an intersection, only to end up entering it seconds after the light turns red. You could misread a “No Right on Red” sign and turn right anyway, causing you to strike a pedestrian. However, these errors in judgment aren’t typically enough to result in manslaughter cases.

What leads to manslaughter charges, then? Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is perhaps the most common cause of vehicular manslaughter charges. This falls outside the range of a regular error in judgment and lands squarely in negligent territory.

Any driver should know that driving while under the influence could lead to death or injury, so drivers in this category face much stiffer penalties. Manslaughter charges may also be brought against a driver if they are negligent in other ways, perhaps by speeding far above the speed limit or willfully ignoring traffic lights and signs.

DUI Manslaughter Penalties

In Michigan, causing another person’s death while driving while intoxicated is considered a felony. If you are convicted, you face consequences that are likely to follow you for the rest of your life. You could spend up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

There is no cut-and-dry answer as to how much time you will spend in prison or be forced to pay. There are a wide range of factors that can impact your sentencing for a DUI felony.

Factors Affecting Your Charges and Penalties

Certain factors could cause you to face even more aggressive penalties. If you are “super drunk,” a term that refers to a BAC of 0.17 or above, your penalty may be enhanced. The same is true if the person who dies is an EMT, police officer, firefighter, or any other type of emergency response provider. Should these factors apply, you could spend up to 20 years in prison.

Remember that manslaughter is not the only charge you have to worry about. You may also face charges for DUI/OWI. Causing someone else’s death is an aggravating factor for DUI sentencing, so you’re likely to be subject to tougher penalties for your DUI charge. Other factors that could lead to aggravated OWI charges include transporting a minor while impaired, prior OWI offenses, driving with a suspended license, being in possession of drugs or firearms, and driving without car insurance.

Other Consequences to Consider

The legal penalties of a vehicular manslaughter conviction are not the only ones you’ll face. For many people, a felony is the end of their career. Should you be able to continue working in your chosen field after finishing your prison sentence, you may find that your upward growth options are severely limited. If you try to find a new job, the felony on your record may be enough to take you out of the running.

What if you have family law troubles down the road? When deciding how to split custody, the court will consider a wide range of variables. One of those variables is how safe or trustworthy each parent is. A felony on your record, particularly one that involves the death of another person, could seriously hurt you in family court.

Davis Law Group Can Help You Face DUI Manslaughter Charges

Being arrested is not the end of the road for you. You still have legal options to consider. The sooner you connect with a Detroit criminal defense attorney, the easier it is for them to build a strong case for you.

Our team will look at every aspect of your case, including your arrest, the evidence gathered by the prosecution, how the evidence was gathered, and what story the prosecution is trying to tell with their case. If your rights were violated during your arrest or at any subsequent point in the investigation, we might have grounds to have certain evidence thrown out.

The team at Davis Law Group can interpret a wide range of evidence to figure out what it means for your case. This could also involve looking at an accident reconstruction to determine what caused the crash. At first glance, it may appear that you caused the crash. However, if you dig deeper, it may come out that a defective vehicle component was liable.

Our goal is to protect your rights, freedom, and future. We’ll work with you every step of the way to make that happen.


I wasn’t impaired at the time of the crash. What do I do next?

Your Davis Law Group attorney can help you understand how this happens and fight to have your case dismissed. Breathalyzer machines can malfunction, police officers can administer breath tests incorrectly, and sobriety tests are subjective in nature. These are all common reasons for a police officer to believe that a suspect is impaired.

What is the timeline for a DUI manslaughter case?

A lot depends on the circumstances of your case. If the state has a very weak case against you, they may be willing to drop or reduce charges early in the process when presented with evidence that contradicts theirs. If they are not interested in a plea deal, you could wait months while they gather evidence and use it to build a case against you. When multiple parties share liability, this further complicates your case and extends the timeline.

What are the possible outcomes of my case?

You could have all charges dropped, have charges reduced, go to prison, pay fines, do community service, or attend an alcohol treatment program. You’ll likely face some combination of these outcomes.

Contact Davis Law Group Now

A DUI manslaughter conviction could change the rest of your life. Let us help you fight for a fair outcome that gives you a second chance. To talk about your case and make a plan, call Davis Law Group at 313-818-3238 or contact us online today. Free and confidential, initial consultations.