A recent article about a man who may be charged for fleeing the scene of an auto accident that killed a pedestrian in Anne Arundel County raises many questions regarding the legal penalties surrounding vehicular manslaughter, especially when such an act takes place in a hit-and-run situation and/or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In this particular incident, police have said that prescription drug use may have been a contributing factor that led the 26-year old driver to lose control of his Dodge Caravan, strike a woman that had been standing on a nearby sidewalk and drive away from the scene. The suspected vehicle driven during the accident has been found by law enforcement officers.
Although the article didn’t specify the exact charges being brought against the driver in this incident, it can be speculated, based on the circumstances surrounding this case, that the driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter and operating a vehicle in a grossly negligent manner. The penalties for these charges can include significant prison time and hefty fines. If it is determined that the driver was operating his vehicle under the influence of drugs, additional prison time could be added. These charges could all be on top of other criminal charges or traffic violations associated with a particular incident, such as driving with a suspended license. Being suspected of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death may also contribute to an increase in punishment.
Many prescription medications warn against operating a motor vehicle while under the medication’s effects due to a high possible onset of drowsiness or other risks of side effects that could impair a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Although prescription drugs are legal, they can still create hazards similar to those of a driver who is on the road while under the influence of an illegal substance or alcohol. Even though it has not been released at this time which prescription drug the driver in the above case is suspected of being under the influence of, many of these drugs can affect a driver’s reaction time, coordination, attention, and many other requirements for operating a vehicle safely.