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Vehicular homicide and sober drivers

When a death occurs in a car accident due to a drunk driver, New York law is fairly clear about how the at-fault driver is to be punished. However, when the driver is sober, it seems to be far harder to decide what to do. According to The New York Times, the state usually requires that a person breaks two laws in order to be found negligent in a traffic crime. The New York Court of Appeals added a new stipulation that must be considered, called moral blame.

Moral blame is the idea that the person intended to do harm. In a drunk driving case, it is fairly easy to establish moral blame and to prove multiple traffic laws were broken, but when a sober driver is involved and the cause of the accident was just due to one action, like speed, it becomes harder to prove a vehicular homicide case.

The Gothamist reports that it is rare for a sober driver to be charged with a serious crime, like vehicular homicide, when they cause a crash that kills someone. In almost 1,300 cases, only about five percent of drivers were charged with a serious crime. This is a huge contrast to how the state deals with drunk drivers. It actually has some of the strongest laws regarding drunk driving, especially when someone is killed as a result. Most sober drivers are able to walk away with little to no consequences simply because they were not drinking and driving even when their actions were the direct cause of the accident. 

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