Criminal Vehicular Homicide and Injury Under Minnesota’s DWI Laws

Criminal law defines six levels of criminal vehicular operation (CVO)—all but one constituting felony offenses—depending on the level of injury inflicted:

  • criminal vehicular homicide (causing death, but not constituting murder or manslaughter)
  • great bodily harm (serious permanent injury) substantial bodily harm (temporary substantial injury)
  • bodily harm (pain or injury—a gross misdemeanor)
  • death to an unborn child
  • injury to an unborn child

A common element to each of these CVO crimes is that the person causes the specified harm to another person as a result of operating a motor vehicle under any of the following conditions:

  • in a grossly negligent manner
  • in violation of any of the elements of regular DWI law
  • where the driver who causes the accident leaves the scene in violation of Minnesota’s felony fleeing law
  • where a citation was issued that the vehicle was defectively maintained, the driver knew remedial action was not taken, the defect created a risk to others, and injury or death resulted from the defective maintenance

In practice, most CVO prosecutions involve simultaneous violation of DWI law.

Under the sentencing guidelines, conviction for criminal vehicular homicide or death to an unborn child carries a presumptive commit to prison for 48 months, for an offender with no other criminal history points.

CREDIT: The content of this post has been copied or adopted from An Overview of Minnesota’s DWI Laws, originally published by the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department and written by legislative analysts Jim Cleary and Rebecca Pirius.

This is also part of a series of posts on Minnesota’s DWI Laws.

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