Can Texting While Driving Lead to a Murder Charge in Pennsylvania
Distracted driving in Pennsylvania can have serious negative repercussions. Whether a driver is found to be texting while driving, calling a friend, or looking up directions on his or her cellphone, the penalties for distracted driving are severe and can result in hefty court fees and fines. When an accident due to distracted driving results in harm to other people or even death, a distracted driver can face some of the toughest penalties in Pennsylvania, punishable by years of incarceration and thousands of dollars in fines.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we’ve represented numerous clients who have been charged with distracted driving or who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in a homicide by vehicle charge. Our experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys know how to fight these types of charges and are skilled at defending our clients in distracted driving and homicide by vehicle cases.
Death & Distracted Driving — Is It Murder Or Homicide By Vehicle?
Murder and homicide by vehicle are two distinct but related charges in Pennsylvania that could, hypothetically, apply in a distracted driving case. When a person unlawfully kills someone with malice aforethought—i.e. the intention to kill or harm—or demonstrates extreme and reckless disregard for life, he or she may be committing murder. When a person unlawfully kills another person due to recklessness or gross negligence while driving and, at the same time, does not meet the criteria for murder, he or she may be committing homicide by vehicle, instead.
Lacking malice aforethought or extreme recklessness and disregard for life, i.e. the criteria for murder, most cases of death due to distracted driving would be classified as homicide by vehicle—not murder.
Can Texting While Driving Lead To A Homicide By Vehicle Charge in PA?
Texting while driving can lead to a homicide charge in cases where a person is found to have caused the death of another person through recklessness or gross negligence while operating a motor vehicle. The charge of homicide by vehicle is classified as a third-degree felony and can have a large and lasting impact on a distracted driver’s life. It is punishable by up to:
- 7 years incarceration
- $15,000 in fines
- 3 years license suspension
Additionally, a person convicted of homicide by vehicle could be sentenced to an additional term of up to 5 years incarceration if her offense occurred in an active work zone or if she violated her duty as a driver in an emergency response area.
How Our Experienced Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
Being charged with any traffic violation or motor vehicle offense can be a frightening experience, none more so than in cases where death occurs. The risks of having a felony conviction on your criminal record are grave, but with the help of a skilled Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, you may be able to get your charges reduced.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we’ve helped numerous clients fight their distracted driving charges, no matter the severity of their case. If you’ve been charged with distracted driving, vehicular homicide, or any type of Pittsburgh traffic violation, call us for a free, initial consultation at (412) 281-2146 today.