Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney
March 01. 2023.
DWI in Kansas City
As in many other cities, driving while intoxicated is prohibited in Kansas City, Missouri. According to Missouri law, DWI occurs when a person operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or more.
Drunk driving is a criminal offense. It is an even bigger crime when someone chooses to get behind the wheel of a car in an intoxicated or drugged condition, causing someone else to lose their life.
The driver will face severe penalties if found guilty and could spend many years in prison.
What Is Manslaughter in Missouri?
Manslaughter in Missouri is considered one of the most severe assault and violent crimes. Missouri Code §565.023 defines manslaughter as “any act in which one person causes the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder in the second degree.” Therefore, manslaughter can occur when an individual causes bodily injury resulting in the death of another person due to excessive blood alcohol content, recklessness, or negligence.
What’s the Difference Between First-Degree and Second-Degree Manslaughter?
A critical distinction between first-degree and second-degree manslaughter lies in the level of capability of the accused. A negligent act means departing from the duty of care unknowingly, while a reckless action means disregarding another’s safety willfully or wantonly. Therefore, first-degree manslaughter carries stiffer penalties.
Therefore, in first-degree involuntary DWI manslaughter, a person’s death may result from a driver who knew the risk associated with driving while intoxicated. Still, they disregarded it and decided to do it anyway.
Therefore, in the case of second-degree involuntary manslaughter, a person driving while under the influence may not be aware that their actions caused an accident until later.
Typical Sentence for DWI Manslaughter
A motor vehicle driver that kills another human being due to an alcohol-related driving offense commits a felony offense.
A felony charge is usually punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The amount of prison time, fines, and driver’s license suspension will depend on the circumstances of each case.
In addition to the jail sentence, fines, suspended license, and probation, the ramifications of a conviction will follow you long-term. You may be ineligible to be hired for specific jobs or higher-education degrees. You would lose any professional licenses held. You could also be deemed unfit for custody of your children. Additionally, you may not be able to obtain an apartment or home, qualify for a car loan, or borrow money.
Even if you are acquitted of the criminal charge, the public accusation and trial can significantly affect the rest of your life.
Prison Time for DWI Manslaughter
The prison time for DWI manslaughter depends on the details of the crime. Also, the degree of manslaughter will determine the amount of prison time the person convicted is required to serve.
For example, a motorist driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs who slammed into an S.U.V., resulting in the death of small children, may be sentenced more harshly than a motorist who had an accident resulting in the death of his girlfriend in the passenger seat.
How Many Years of Jail Time is Awarded for Involuntary Manslaughter in Missouri?
The number of years depends upon the degree of the case. First-degree involuntary manslaughter is generally considered a Class C felony. It is punishable by imprisonment of a minimum of three years up to a maximum of ten years. The court may also order a fine of up to $10,000.
Second-degree involuntary manslaughter is considered a Class D or Class E Felony in Missouri. The penalties are up to seven years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
Involuntary manslaughter can be also considered a Class A or Class B felony if the culprit is a persistent offender/chronic offender with a history of the same crime. The penalty for this class of crime is 10-30 years of prison time, and they have to serve 85% of the sentence.