When Does DWI Resulting in Death Amount to Second Degree Murder?

Posted in the Charlotte Forum


Charlotte, NC

#1 May 31, 2013
Because the act of driving while impaired violates a safety statute designed for the protection of human life and limb, it amounts to culpable negligence as a matter of law, see State v. Davis, 198 N.C. App. 443, 447 (2009). Thus, driving while impaired and proximately (but unintentionally) causing the death of another is involuntary manslaughter, a Class F felony. However, the act of impaired driving and thereby causing the death of another does not, without more, constitute second-degree murder. That is because second-degree murder requires malice, a state of mind that can be proved in vehicular homicide cases by showing that the defendant intended to drive in a reckless manner reflecting knowledge that injury or death would likely result. See State v. McAllister, 138 N.C. App. 252 (2000).

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