Michigan has a proud history of prison reform—our state was one of the first states to abolish prisons for debtors and to start a parole program. However, in recent years our legacy as a state for humane measures turned into a legacy of long, harsh prison sentencing. Per a University of Michigan study, the average minimum sentence in Michigan doubled between the 1990s and the 2010s.
When people ask “what’s the average sentence for vehicular homicide,” they’re asking the wrong question. If another state had a higher average sentence for the same crime, that wouldn’t necessarily tell us how long a person would actually be in prison. The number you’re looking for is how long people serve their sentences in prison, on average. Michigan leads the nation when it comes to average prison stays—if you’re imprisoned here, you’ll likely stay in prison longer than if you were convicted anywhere else.
Unfortunately, there’s no specific prison sentence data for vehicular homicide. What we do know is this: because there’s no statute governing driving deaths, any cases regarding vehicular homicide will be tried according to Michigan’s homicide laws.
Vehicular Homicide, Second-Degree Murder & Other Charges
If you cause someone’s death while behind the wheel of a car, you’re facing 1 of 4 possible charges: reckless driving causing death, OWI causing death, manslaughter, or second-degree murder. Each one comes with lengthy prison sentences and enormous fines.
Here are the penalties for each charge if you’re convicted:
- Reckless driving: causing a fatality by driving in an intentionally risky manner could lead to 15 years in prison and between $2,500 and $10,000 in fines.
- Driving under the influence: causing a fatality while impaired by drugs or alcohol could result in 15 years in prison and $2,500 to $10,000 in fines.
- Manslaughter: Michigan defines manslaughter as acting in a “grossly negligent” manner with disregard (but full awareness) of the risk to others. Conviction of vehicular manslaughter could result with 15 years in prison and $7,500 in fines.
- Second-degree murder: Michigan defines second-degree murder as homicide while knowingly creating a high risk of of death and harm to others. It could result in life imprisonment.
As you can see, Michigan courts come down harshly on people they perceive to be reckless—even if the death was caused by accident. If you’re facing more than a decade of prison time, it’s vital that you speak with a proven Farmington Hills homicide defense attorney. I’ve been practicing law since 2002, providing all types of clients with strong, successful defenses. All my time and resources go to the cases I represent, ensuring that your defense gets the attention it requires for success.
No one will work harder on your defense. I’m available 24 hours a day, with flexible payment plans upon request. Call (248) 599-0054 to speak with me directly about your case!