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Should a DUI Death Be Treated as Murder?

lorayoungNov 23, 2018, 8:40:34 AM

DUI deaths, or really, any kind of sudden deaths, are bound to plant seeds of bitterness in the family and friends of anyone it happens to. I, for one, have lost a dear friend to a drunk driver. In all honesty, it is for this reason that this article is quite an emotional piece and I feel strongly about it.

I’ve always felt bitter toward drunk drivers. I mean, the victims are innocent people who pay the ultimate price simply because someone else isn’t able to resist the urge to drink. The thought of losing a friend or a family member to someone’s poor choices feels like a senseless death.

And well, sometimes, the victims may survive, but they may suffer severe injuries such as a permanent brain damage. This instance requires a whole different discussion, but for those who want to pursue that train of thought, Lawsuit Legal provides a lot of information on the subject.

I’m not proud of it, but sometimes I wished that the charge for a DUI death would be raised to murder. So, let’s discuss the nitty-gritty, shall we? Should a DUI death be treated as a murder?

First, The Stances

Those who are in agreement of treating DUI deaths like murders argue that while it’s true that people who are under the influence are unable to make sound decisions due to their intoxication, the mere fact that they are aware that drinking will almost always lead to a state of intoxication means that they are indeed making a conscious decision to put the lives of other people at risk. These sentiments were the exact sentiments expressed by the prosecution in the case of People v. Heidgen.

On the other hand, those who don’t agree with treating DUI deaths as murder state that there must have been a premeditation and a motive to commit murder. Drunk drivers don’t intend to kill anyone and instead, they are more likely to be hit with a recklessness (or wanton conduct) charge.

The Actual Situation

In fact, there have been many cases of DUI deaths being treated as murders. And well, the law is not frigid and unmoving. Rather, we should understand it the same way that we understand a coastline. There is a general area that the land and the water share. Depending on some factors, sometimes the water rises and recedes. It really banks heavily upon the circumstances.

As a general rule, severe facts require severe charges. In most states, if a suspect causes the death of a person during the commission of a crime, that is considered a felony murder.

While this does not fit in the context of a DUI death, the circumstances under which the DUI death occurs will greatly determine whether or not the death will be treated as a murder. Basically, if the suspect exhibits a callous disregard for human life, then that can be enough grounds to charge him with murder.