Death by Vehicle in Wake County

Traffic accidents occur frequently in the United States, but negligent drivers in North Carolina can face criminal charges when crashes are the result of their violations of certain state or local traffic laws. Death by vehicle is a criminal offense that may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the alleged traffic law violation.

A conviction for death by vehicle can result in large fines and a possible jail or prison sentence. People convicted of death by vehicle will also have their driver’s license suspended.

Attorney for Death by Vehicle Arrests in Raleigh

If you were arrested or you think that you could be under investigation for a death by vehicle offense in North Carolina, it is in your best interest to exercise your remain silent until you have legal representation. Coolidge Law Firm aggressively defends clients accused of traffic crimes n communities all over Wake County, such as Raleigh, Rolesville, Wendell, Garner, Morrisville, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, and many others.

David Coolidge is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh with more than a decade of experience defending clients charged with these type offenses. Attorney Coolidge also understands the particularized circumstances that students must face when charged with these serious offenses. Attorney Coolidge has years of experience representing students at local colleges like William Peace University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Shaw University, North Carolina State University (NCSU), Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), and Duke University. Call today to have our attorney review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation.

(919) 239-8448


Overview of Death by Vehicle in North Carolina


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Death by Vehicle Charges in Wake County

North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4 establishes multiple death by vehicle and injury by vehicle crimes. Each one of the following offenses requires the alleged traffic violation to be the proximate cause of death or injury:

  • A person commits the offense of felony death by vehicle under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a1) if he or she unintentionally causes the death of another person while he or she was engaged in the offense of impaired driving (commonly referred to as DUI or DWI). Felony death by vehicle is a Class D felony;
  • A person commits the offense of misdemeanor death by vehicle under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a2) if he or she unintentionally causes the death of another person while he or she was engaged in violation of any state law or local ordinance applying to the operation or use of a vehicle or to the regulation of traffic other than impaired driving. Misdemeanor death by vehicle is a Class A1 misdemeanor;
  • A person commits the offense of felony serious injury by vehicle under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a3) if he or she unintentionally causes serious injury to another person while he or she was engaged in the offense of impaired driving. Felony serious injury by vehicle is a Class F felony;
  • A person commits the offense of aggravated felony serious injury by vehicle under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a4) if he or she unintentionally causes serious injury to another person while he or she was engaged in the offense of impaired driving and the person has a previous conviction involving impaired driving within seven years of the date of the offense. Aggravated felony serious injury by vehicle is a Class E felony;
  • A person commits the offense of aggravated felony death by vehicle under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a5) if he or she unintentionally causes the death of another person while he or she was engaged in the offense of impaired driving and the person has a previous conviction involving impaired driving within seven years of the date of the offense. Aggravated felony death by vehicle is a Class D felony;
  • A person commits the offense of repeat felony death by vehicle under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a6) if he or she commits an offense under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a1) or North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a5) and has a previous conviction under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a1), North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.4(a5), or murder or manslaughter and the basis of the conviction was the unintentional death of another person while engaged in the offense of impaired driving. Repeat felony death by vehicle is a Class B2 felony.

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Death by Vehicle Penalties in Raleigh

North Carolina uses a “structured sentencing” system for all feloines and misdemeanors except DWI that takes into account both the nature of the crime an alleged offender is accused of and his or her prior criminal record,.. Felons are classified into one of six prior record levels depending on the extent and gravity of their prior record, while misdemeanor offenders are classified into one of three prior conviction levels depending on their number of prior convictions.

People who are convicted of crimes in North Carolina can receive one of three types of sentences: Active punishments involving terms of incarceration in state prisons or jails, intermediate punishments involving sentences of supervised probation as well as other possible conditions such as house arrest, a short jail sentence, or community service, and community punishments which generally involve a period of supervised or unsupervised probation.

When a person is convicted of the Class A1 misdemeanor offense of misdemeanor death by vehicle, he or she could receive one of the following sentences, depending on his or her prior criminal record:

  • Prior Conviction Level I — Community, intermediate, or active punishment of up to 60 days;
  • Prior Conviction Level II — Community, intermediate, or active punishment of up to 75 days; or
  • Prior Conviction Level III — Community, intermediate, or active punishment of up to 150 days.

All other death or injury by vehicle crimes are felony offenses. In felony cases, points are assigned to a person’s criminal record and the alleged offender is placed into one of six different prior record levels.

The possible punishment ranges for felony offenses are separated into three different ranges: a mitigated range for cases with more mitigating factors, an aggravated range for cases with more aggravating factors, and a presumptive range for cases with an equal amount of or no mitigating factors and aggravating factors. Felony convictions for death or injury by vehicle crimes are punishable as follows

  Prior Record Level I

(0-1 point)

Prior Record Level II

(2-5 points)

Prior Record Level III

(6-9 points)

Prior Record Level IV

(10-13 points)

Prior Record Level V

(14-17 points)

Prior Record Level VI

(18+ points)

Class B2 Active Active Active Active Active Active
Aggravated 240-300 months 276-345 months 317-397 months 365-456 months Life Without Parole Life Without Parole
Presumptive 192-240 months 221-276 months 254-317 months 292-365 months 336-420 months 386-483 months
Mitigated 94-125 months 108-144 months 124-165 months 143-190 months 164-219 months 189-251 months
Class D Active Active Active Active Active Active
Aggravated 64-80 months 73-92 months 84-105 months 97-121 months 111-139 months 128-160 months
Presumptive 51-64 months 59-73 months 67-84 months 78-97 months 89-111 months 103-128 months
Mitigated 38-51 months 44-59 months 51-67 months 58-78 months 67-89 months 77-103 months
Class E Intermediate or Active Intermediate or Active Active Active Active Active
Aggravated 25-31 months 29-36 months 33-41 months 38-48 months 44-55 months 50-63 months
Presumptive 20-25 months 23-29 months 26-33 months 30-38 months 35-44 months 40-50 months
Mitigated 15-20 months 17-23 months 20-26 months 23-30 months 26-35 months 30-40 months
Class F Intermediate or Active Intermediate or Active Intermediate or Active Active Active Active
Aggravated 16-20 months 19-23 months 21-27 months 25-31 months 28-36 months 33-41 months
Presumptive 13-16 months 15-19 months 17-21 months 20-25 months 23-28 months 26-33 months
Mitigated 10-13 months 11-15 months 13-17 months 15-20 months 17-23 months 20-26 months

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Death by Vehicle Resources in North Carolina

North Carolina 2016 Traffic Crash Facts | North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NC DMV) — View the full text of the 2016 report from the NC DMV detailing traffic crash statistics for the state. You can learn more about fatalities by county, contributing circumstances, and death and injury rates for traffic crashes going back to 1960. The report also includes vehicle, city, and county data

North Carolina Crash Data — View a website provided by the Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) at UNC, North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP), and NC DMV. You can use a data analysis tool that will create tables reflecting crash, vehicle, and person information for crashes in North Carolina in 2001–2016. You can customize the year, geographic area, and types of injuries involved in crashes.


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Find a Death by Vehicle Defense Lawyer in Wake County

Do you believe that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for a death or injury by vehicle crime in the Research Triangle? You should avoid saying anything to authorities including EMS and medical personnel until you can contact Coolidge Law Firm.

Raleigh criminal defense attorney David Coolidge represents individuals in Wake Forest, Knightdale, Zebulon, Apex, Raleigh, Cary, and several other communities in Wake County. You can have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (919) 239-8448 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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