What Is Vehicular Homicide in the State of Tennessee?

Vehicular Homicide A motor vehicle collision can cause a wide variety of injuries that can range in severity from bumps and bruises to fatal injuries. If you caused a collision that resulted in a death of another person you could be charged with vehicular homicide in the State of Tennessee. Not all fatal injuries result in criminal charges against the at-fault party; however, if a charge of vehicular homicide has been filed against you it is imperative that you understand what the State of Tennessee must prove to convict you as well as the possible penalties if you are convicted.

Vehicular homicide is governed by Tennessee Code 39-13-213 which defines the offense as follows:

(a) Vehicular homicide is the reckless killing of another by the operation of an automobile, airplane, motorboat or other motor vehicle, as the proximate result of:(1) Conduct creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person;

(2) The driver’s intoxication, as set forth in § 55-10-401. For the purposes of this section, intoxication includes alcohol intoxication as defined by § 55-10-408, drug intoxication, or both; or

(3) As the proximate result of conduct constituting the offense of drag racing as prohibited by title 55, chapter 10, part 5.

The statute explains under what conditions a death turns from an accidental death caused by a collision to a homicide by requiring the death to have been a “reckless killing.” The statute goes on to explain when a killing is reckless by specifically mentioning the three circumstances that qualify:

·Conduct creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury·Intoxication

·Drag racing

Intoxication and drag racing are fairly straight forward; however, subsection (1) leaves room for interpretation. For example, is a driver who is texting and driving “creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury?” What about a driver who has been awake and on the road for 24 hours? These are questions of fact for a judge or jury to decide.

Vehicular homicide if charged under subsections (1) or (3) is a Class C felony in the State of Tennessee, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than three and not more than 15 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Vehicular homicide charged under subsection (2) is a Class B felony which carries with it term of imprisonment of eight to 30 years and/or a fine of up to $25,000 if convicted. In addition, a defendant’s driving privileges will be revoked for three to 10 years if convicted of vehicular homicide in Tennessee.

If you have been charged with vehicular homicide in the State of Tennessee it is imperative that you consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.


Stan Bennett