Criminal Attorney Rahul Balaram Discusses Casualties in a DUI Case: Manslaughter or Murder?


It’s no secret that drunk driving is dangerous. It poses a risk to the driver, any passengers in the car, and everyone else on the road.

While the fines of a DUI charge may seem like a hefty price to pay, it’s far less than the cost of a life. In the tragic case where an intoxicated driver is involved in a fatal accident, other than the driver, criminal charges will likely be filed against the driver that caused it.

In this article, criminal defense attorney Rahul Balaram discusses the differences between manslaughter or murder. The exact type of criminal charges depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the case.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference between manslaughter and murder is intention. In a case that involves alcohol, however, the difference between the two can be quite foggy because most fatalities are not intentional.

Still, there are some slight distinctions that divide the two.


DUI manslaughter occurs when a person consumes alcohol and/or drugs, and then drives while under the influence, resulting in a fatality.

Because the defendant did not intend to harm or kill anyone and was not in a clear state of mind, they will likely be charged with manslaughter. This is especially true for those who have never had any DUI incidents before, but for those who have had priors, they are more likely to be charged with murder.

This type of manslaughter is also commonly referred to as “vehicular manslaughter,” since a vehicle was involved, but because vehicular manslaughter can happen in other situations, it’s important to clarify that the driver was under the influence.

For those convicted of DUI manslaughter, they would likely be looking at up to 15 years in jail. In the state of California, it can also be tried as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the case and their driving record.


If a person has had many DUI incidents prior to a fatal accident involving alcohol, they will likely be charged for murder, despite the fact that they likely had no intention to kill.

However, after each DUI instance, a person is notified of what’s called a “Watson advisement,” which warns the driver of the risks of drunk driving and has them acknowledge them. If they choose to drive while under the influence again, they intentionally ignored the risks of drunk driving, which subsequently meets the criteria to be tried for murder.

In a DUI murder case, the driver faces spending the rest of his or her life in prison, since it is a much more serious charge.

If you ever find yourself charged for DUI manslaughter or murder, it’s important to have the right defense. That’s because prosecutors and law enforcement will try to ensure you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Having a strong defense attorney means you’re putting yourself at the best odds.

About Rahul Balaram

Rahul Balaram is an experienced and dedicated attorney that has represented hundreds of clients. Mr. Balaram takes pride in ensuring his clients are aware of every aspect of their case and that their interests are presented with dignity, compassion, and competence.

Rahul opened the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is widely known for his excellent trial skills, his unrelenting work on behalf of his clients, and the outstanding results that his clients receive.


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