Pennsylvania DUI Homicide Laws | The McShane Firm, LLC (2023)

When someone dies and the government thinks a DUI is the reason, the case becomes extreme. There are two major charges that the government can charge in these cases:Homicide by Vehicle while DUI, andPA DUI murder (murder in the third degree).

How long will it take for them to charge me if someone dies with my DUI?

Sometimes it can take months or over a year. Prosecutors and accident scene recinstructionists take a long time in coming to a charging decision. Do not wait. You need to get in front of this as much as possible. The court will sentence DUIcausing death to years Orr decades depending.

If you’ve been accused of causing the death of another person while driving under the influence, this is no doubt an incredibly stressful time for you. You have you been through a terrible trauma. Also you may be terrified of what’s going to happen next. The good news is you do not have to face this difficult time alone. The McShane Firm is here to help.

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Pennsylvania DUI Homicide Laws

In a Homicide by Vehicle while DUI case, the government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You were DUI.
  2. There was a death.
  3. The direct and proximate cause of that death was the DUI.

Defenses to Homicide by Vehicle while DUI cases:

If we can break that causal chain, then the government loses their case. Your chances of going to jail decrease. The possibility of having a felony on your record is zero. Other factors outside of impairment that can cause accidents involving death include:

  • Texting while driving
  • Distractions in the car
  • Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Spilling something
  • poorly constructed sight lines
  • improperly graded roads
  • poor road conditions
  • poor weather conditions
  • the other driver not having their headlights or tail lights on at night
  • falling objects in the road
  • animals in the road
  • people in the road
  • the other driver being drunk or high
  • the other vehicle being unroadworthy
  • the person injured wearing all dark clothing on a rural road with no overhead lighting
  • the person injured walking in the road
  • other vehicle code infractions such as speeding
  • and the list goes on and on.

We’ve seen it all. That’s why you need an attorney like The McShane Firm who has extensive accident scene reconstruction training and has handled hundreds upon hundreds of these cases.

Pennsylvania Homicide by Vehicle while DUI Sentencing

When facing a DUI charge that involves the death of another person, you can be charged with the sentencing enhancement of Homicide. Sentencing enhancement is the technical term for the extra penalties the court can apply when an alleged DUI involves an accident, injury, or death. For DUI Homicide, these penalties are very severe.

In Pennsylvania, homicide is a felony of the second degree. That carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. So you can be charged with one count of homicide for each person whom the court can prove died due to your driving under the influence. If convicted, you will face a minimum of three years in jail, with a maximum of 10 years behind bars, for each person who lost their life. By law, if there are multiple deaths, the three year mandatory minimum is stacked or ordered to be served one right after the other.

Pennsylvania DUI Homicide Laws | The McShane Firm, LLC (3)

Pennsylvania Murder DUI Laws

If you have a prior DUI in your background, the prosecution can charge you with DUI murder. Technically, it is a charge of Murder in the Third Degree. Murder in the third degree requires that the government prove that you killed another person and did so with malice. They do not have to prove it was premeditated or intentional. The government needs to provemore than negligence or recklessness and must disregard the threat posed to human life by the conduct undertaken. The government does this by trying to introduce your prior DUI. Specifically, they try to introduce the fact that you attended DUI Alcohol Safe Driving School and the DUI Victim Impact panel as proof that you knew that DUI kills, but you chose to do it any way.

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Pennsylvania Third Degree Murder DUI Sentencing

Murder in the Third degree has a maximum sentence of forty years. Even if you have a zero prior record score, the standard range sentencing for a conviction for DUI cases charged as third degree murder begin at 6 or 7 years or more.

We’re Here to Help

When facing such severe punishment, it’s easy to give up hope. But don’t plead guilty just yet. We can help.

The highly-trained DUI lawyers of The McShane Firm will provide you the unbiased representation you deserve and will do everything possible to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your case. The trial process and procedures surrounding a DUI Homicide or DUI murder case is very complicated. It is emotional. The aggressive DUI attorneys at The McShane Firm are experienced litigators with extensive courtroom experience and can make the trial process easier by standing up for you in court.

Emotions run high during DUI cases, and you can expect the State to work hard to convict you by calling several expert witnesses to prove your guilt and make the case that you deserve the harshest punishment the law allows.

An aggressive DUI lawyer from The McShane Firm can fight back, vigorously defending you against the charges. We employ a full team of experts, including accident re-constructionists and chemical test and substance abuse experts who will do everything in their power to provide you with the strongest defense possible. We have our own private detective on staff, and all of our attorneys have specialized DUI training equal or greater to that of Pennsylvania State Troopers. This unique combination of resources and training makes The McShane Firm your smartest choice.

Get an attorney right now

As you can see, the penalties for DUI cases involving death are drastic. If you find yourself accused of a DUI murder 3 case or Homicide by Vehicle by DUI in Pennsylvania, the experienced DUI lawyers at The McShane Firm can help to minimize or eliminate the charges against you.

(Video) Harrisburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Justin J. McShane on Tyshant Love Case

Additional recommended reading:

  • Problems with DUI Blood Tests in Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania DUI Laws and your Professional License (Military too)
  • CDL holder and DUI charges
  • Pennsylvania DUI FAQ (Free Information, Easy to Understand)
  • PA DUI Blog
  • Free PA DUI Info (Easy to Understand Language)
  • DUI Lawyer Costs
  • DUI Trial Procedure
  • Pennsylvania DUI Attorneys
  • Pennsylvania DUI Laws and your Professional License
  • How To Find The Best DUI Lawyer in Pennsylvania

2nd DUI With Refusal
I couldn’t have asked for a better attorney than Tim. He was so patient with me through the whole process and answered every question I had regardless of how stupid they were. This was my second DUI in 4 years and I refused any testing which calls for an automatic license suspension. Tim fought Penndot on the refusal charge and won and also took my DUI case to trial and won. NOT GUILTY on everything. He is worth every penny I spent. If you are looking for a great attorney I would highly recommend Tim.


Justin McShane and his entire staff made me feel like they took my case personally and really cared about a suitable outcome of my case. All my calls and questions and emails were answered very quickly. I would highly recommend The McShane Firm for any representation.


The best of the best in DUI cases. Worth every penny. 8 years later and I still can’t thank you guys enough.


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Best DUI Defense in PA
I was falsely accused of Driving Under the Influence with Reckless Endangerment of my young son in the car. I was in jeopardy of losing custody of my only child. Thanks to Tim, this tragedy was avoided. Tim strategically fought for me to convince the jurors that the Commonwealth’s witnesses should not be believed. He used his experience to ‘splain the truth to the jury. With just the right balance of charm, mild indignation, logic, truth telling, humor, personal anecdotes, relationship building, power of persuasion, professional acumen, trial experience, and so much more, Tim achieved success for me. He’s worth every penny. Tim did great, and I’ll always be grateful!


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What is the penalty for vehicular homicide while DUI in Pennsylvania? ›

Homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in a Pennsylvania DUI case is punishable by a minimum of three years in prison. The judge has the option of imposing a sentence of three to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 for each count of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

What is the sentence for vehicular homicide in Pennsylvania? ›

Pennsylvania recognizes no minimum sentence for Homicide By Vehicle convictions. However, laws currently designate maximum sentences of up to seven years. Judges may also impose up to five additional years if the homicide occurred within an active work zone or during specific motor vehicle violations.

How long do you have to file DUI charges in PA? ›

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for DUI is two (2) years. This means that he police have two (2) years from the date of the offense to file the charges. It is important to note that criminal complaints are freely amendable.

How much is a first offense DUI in PA? ›

A first DUI conviction in PA could mean up to six months in jail, a $5,000 fine, and loss of your license for up to a year.

Is killing someone while drunk driving manslaughter? ›

If you are involved in an accident that involves the death of another person while you were driving while intoxicated and have no prior DUI convictions on your record, you will likely be charged with either vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

What is vehicular manslaughter with negligence and DUI causing death? ›

The crime of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated occurs when a motorist, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and driving with gross negligence, causes an accident in which another person is killed. A conviction is a felony punishable by a sentence of 4, 6, or 10 years in jail or state prison.

What is the year sentence for vehicular homicide? ›

Vehicular Homicide: Class B felony, not less than 8 years or more than 30 years and a fine of not more than $25,000 may be imposed. Aggravated Vehicle Homicide: Class A felony, not less than 15 years or more than 60 years and a fine of not more than $50,000 may be imposed.

What is the meaning of vehicular homicide? ›

Vehicular manslaughter (also known as “vehicular homicide”) is defined as “causing the death of a human being due to illegal driving of an automobile.” This definition includes acts of drunk driving, speeding, reckless driving, and gross negligence.

Is vehicular manslaughter a life sentence? ›

The maximum misdemeanor jail time, even with gross negligence, is one year in county jail. For a felony vehicular manslaughter charge, the maximum sentence is 6 years in state prison. This is also where ordinary negligence really comes into play, because it's typically grounds for a misdemeanor.

How can I get my DUI case dismissed in PA? ›

During the hearing, you could challenge the validity or constitutionality of the stop. Every vehicle stop must meet certain factors. If the police cannot tell the court what factors they used, or cannot clearly identify the reasons for your stop, then the case should result in a dismissal.

Can DUI charges be dropped in PA? ›

The police must have sufficient grounds to make an arrest. If it can be shown that police did not have sufficient probable cause to stop you or to arrest you, the case against you will be dismissed. Likewise, if the police did not follow proper procedures during your arrest, your case could also get dismissed.

Do you always go to jail for a DUI in PA? ›

If the bodily alcohol content is . 16 or higher, 72 hours in jail is required. However, jail time is not mandatory for a first DUI in PA if the bodily alcohol content is general or less than . 10.

What are the new DUI laws in PA 2023? ›

Key Takeaway of the New Pennsylvania DUI Law

Astonishingly, the police can charge you with a second-degree felony DUI punishable by up to ten years in prison for simply refusing to take a chemical test for DUI.

Do you lose your license for first DUI in PA? ›

If you were charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, you face a 12 month automatic driver's license suspension from PennDOT, even for a first offense DUI charge with a blood alcohol content level over . 08. For many people, losing their license is simply not an option, as they must drive to work.

How do you beat a DUI in PA? ›

How Can You Fight a DUI Charge in Pennsylvania?
  1. You Weren't Actually Driving Under the Influence. ...
  2. You Weren't In “Actual Physical Control” of Your Vehicle. ...
  3. Your Breath Test Result is Unreliable. ...
  4. Your Field Sobriety Test Results are Unreliable. ...
  5. The Police Stopped You Without Reasonable Suspicion.
Jul 20, 2021

Is involuntary manslaughter a felony in PA? ›

--Involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Where the victim is under 12 years of age and is in the care, custody or control of the person who caused the death, involuntary manslaughter is a felony of the second degree.

What is the crime code 3735 in PA? ›

§ 3735. Homicide by vehicle while driving under influence.

What is the sentence for vehicular homicide in Indiana? ›

Regardless of the act that caused the homicide, all involuntary homicides are considered felonies in the state of Indiana. As Level 5 felonies, homicide convictions may have consequences of up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Anyone convicted will lose his or her right to drive for two to five years.


1. New Evidence Proves man didn't kill son abc27 WHTM
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2. Field Sobriety Tests in PA DUI Cases - What to Ask Your Attorney - PA Criminal Defense Lawyers
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