A suspected drunk driver has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence (DUI) in the death of a Gwinnett County woman. WSB-TV 2 reports that Lisa Cox was killed when Marvin Bonilla hit her vehicle head-on last Saturday. Bonilla was reportedly driving the wrong way on Ga. 316 when the crash occurred. He is being held without bond in the Gwinnett County Jail.
WSB-TV 2 also reported that jail records show Bonilla had been arrested on DUI charges three times in 2011. The story does not indicate whether Bonilla was convicted of any of those charges.
This was not the only deadly accident over the long holiday weekend. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that there were 15 deaths on Georgia state roads during the Christmas holiday travel period, nearly double the 2016 total. Accidents, injuries, and DUI arrests were also up from 2016.
What is Vehicular Homicide in Georgia?
Vehicular homicide is one of the most serious charges a Georgia driver can face. A person can be charged with vehicular homicide if they cause a car accident that results in the death of another person.
A person who is found guilty of vehicular homicide in the second degree (the least severe level of vehicular homicide charges) faces jail time, fines, license suspension and other penalties.
The Effect of DUI Charges and Convictions
Georgia's vehicular homicide laws also demonstrate the compounding effect that DUI has on the charges someone may face if they are involved in an accident.
If a driver causes an accident that injures or kills someone while he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the driver is likely to face more severe penalties than a sober driver in the same circumstances. For example, if a driver was under the influence at the time of a deadly accident, he or she could potentially face charges of homicide by vehicle in the first degree. Prison sentences for first-degree vehicular homicide convictions are a minimum of 3 years and up to 15 years.
Having prior DUI convictions can also result in more severe penalties. For example, vehicular homicide penalties increase if the person who caused the accident was considered a "habitual violator" and was driving while his or her license was suspended.
A habitual violator is a driver who has been convicted of DUI three times within the past 5 years. If a habitual violator commits vehicular homicide while their license is suspended, he or she faces a minimum of 5 years in prison and up to 20 years, if convicted.
Arrested for DUI in Gwinnett County?
Even if no one is injured or killed in an accident, a DUI conviction still carries stiff legal penalties, as well as potential personal and professional consequences.
Therefore, it is critically important that you seek legal representation for any DUI arrest. An experienced DUI attorney will fight to get your DUI charges reduced or dismissed. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact a Gwinnett County DUI attorney as soon as possible.