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Ohio Aggravated Vehicular Homicide Overview

Updated: April 18, 2024
Nicholas Gounaris
By Nicholas Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

Aggravated vehicular homicide

Ohio roads can be dangerous places to drive. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, 1,231 fatal motor vehicle crashes occurred in 2021.

Unfortunately, numerous crashes involved aggravated vehicular homicide because the driver was driving recklessly or operating the vehicle while impaired.

In an effort to avoid such unnecessary death, Ohio aggravated vehicular homicide laws are tough.

They call for harsh penalties to punish those who take another’s life while driving under the influence.

A conviction for aggravated vehicular homicide in Ohio can ruin your life even though you never intended to harm another person.

To protect yourself against these serious allegations, you need tough, aggressive, and highly skilled defense lawyers at your side.

Dedicated lawyers from Gounaris Abboud, LPA, stand by, ready to give you the best chance for a successful defense.

What Is Aggravated Vehicular Homicide?

Ohio Revised Code Section 2903.06 defines aggravated vehicular homicide in Ohio.

Under this section, the police can bring aggravated vehicular homicide charges when a person operates a vehicle under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both and kills another person.

Additionally, a person could face charges of aggravated vehicular homicide in Ohio for driving recklessly and killing another, or for killing someone who was in a construction zone at the time of the crash.

However, the fact that you were involved in an accident does not mean you are automatically guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Rather, the police can charge you with aggravated vehicular homicide only if impaired or reckless driving proximately caused the victim’s death.

Essentially, proximate cause means the direct and uninterrupted consequence of an act that killed the victim.

In other words, the State would have to prove that your impaired or reckless driving caused the accident that killed the victim.

What Is the Potential Aggravated Vehicular Homicide Ohio Sentence?

Aggravated vehicular homicide in Ohio is a felony. The degree of felony you face depends on how the crash happened and your prior criminal history.

Aggravated vehicular homicide sentencing takes into consideration your personal history as well as the impact of the victim’s death on their family.

Third-Degree Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

Reckless driving or committing a reckless offense in a construction zone that caused someone’s death is a third-degree felony.

You could go to prison for up to five years, pay a fine of up to $10,000, and lose your driver’s license permanently.

Second-Degree Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

You face a second-degree felony if the police have evidence that you drove while under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

The possible sentence includes a mandatory prison sentence of two and eight years, a fine of up to $15,000, and having your driver’s license suspended for life.

Driving recklessly and killing a person in a construction zone or reckless driving accompanied by aggravating factors is also a second-degree felony.

Aggravating factors that enhance this crime up to a second-degree felony instead of a third-degree felony include:

  • Driving with a suspended license for Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) at the time of the crash;
  • Driving without a license after a previous OVI conviction in Ohio; or
  • Having a prior conviction for motor vehicle homicide, vehicular manslaughter, or vehicular assault.

These offenses carry up to eight years in prison, a $15,000 fine, and the possibility of a lifetime driver’s license suspension.

First-Degree Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

The charge of first-degree aggravated vehicular homicide is appropriate if you caused a fatal crash while impaired with the presence of one aggravating factor.

Aggravating factors include:

  • Having a previous conviction for aggravated vehicular homicide;
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license after an OVI conviction; or
  • Having a prior conviction for vehicular manslaughter, vehicular homicide, or vehicular assault.

The punishment for a first-degree felony is severe. You face mandatory prison time up to 11 years, a $20,000 fine, and lifetime revocation of your driver’s license.

However, you could face up to 15 years of mandatory prison time if you have three or more OVI convictions or one OVI felony conviction in the past six years.

Defenses for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide in Ohio

Even if you think the deck is stacked against you, the law presumes you to be innocent until proven guilty.

Having a knowledgeable and experienced OVI defense attorney aggressively defend your case can help expose weaknesses in the State’s case.

With skilled defense lawyers by your side, you might be able to contest the admissibility of evidence, argue that the police violated your rights, and persuade a jury that the State failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the right circumstances, engaging in plea bargaining might be your best chance to avoid a long prison sentence.

Award-Winning Representation from the Dedicated OVI Defense Lawyers with Gounaris Abboud, LPA

If you face aggravated vehicular homicide charges in Ohio, you need to act quickly to protect your rights.

Contact Gounaris Abboud at 937-222-1515 to enlist highly experienced and reputable OVI defense lawyers to get you the best results possible for your case.

Gounaris Abboud’s OVI defense attorneys earned multiple awards for their stellar representation of people just like you.

It’s no coincidence that our lawyers have earned the AVVO 10.0 Superb Rating as well as inclusion in the list of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers and the annual SuperLawyers distinction.

Put our stellar reputation and work ethic to work for you—call to set up your initial consultation today.

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