Driving to Prison

Understanding Criminal Vehicular Crimes

There are many ways in which a driver in Minnesota can be charged with a crime, but some of the most serious of charges are Criminal Vehicular Operations (CVO) and Criminal Vehicular Homicide (CVH) charges. These charges range from the level of gross misdemeanor that provides for a maximum punishment of 1 year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine, to a felony that can carry as much as 15 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

Gross Misdemeanor Criminal Vehicular Operations- Bodily Harm

The lowest form of a criminal vehicular charge is Criminal Vehicular Operations as a gross misdemeanor. One may be charged with this when as a result of operating a motor vehicle the driver causes bodily harm* to another as a result of operating a motor vehicle in one or more of the following ways:

CVO/CVH Elements

(1) in a grossly negligent manner;

(2) in a negligent manner while under the influence of: alcohol; a controlled substance; or any combination of those elements;

(3) while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more;

(4) while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, as measured within two hours of the time of driving;

(5) in a negligent manner while knowingly under the influence of a hazardous substance;

(6) in a negligent manner while any amount of a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II, other than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols, is present in the person's body;**

(7) where the driver who causes the accident leaves the scene of the accident; or

(8) where the driver had actual knowledge that a peace officer had previously issued a citation or warning that the motor vehicle was defectively maintained, the driver had actual knowledge that remedial action was not taken, the driver had reason to know that the defect created a present danger to others, and the injury was caused by the defective maintenance. If convicted of this charge the defendant may be sentenced up to one year in local jail and/or a $3,000 fine.

Felony Criminal Vehicular Operations- Substantial Bodily Harm

The next serious criminal vehicular charge has the same elements as listed above in the CVO/CVH elements, but instead of causing bodily harm, the driver causes substantial bodily harm*. If conviction of this charge the defendant may be sentenced up to three years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Felony Criminal Vehicular Operations- Great Bodily Harm

The next step-up in severity in a criminal vehicular charge has the same elements as listed above in the CVO/CVH elements, but instead of causing substantial bodily harm, the driver causes great bodily harm*. If conviction of this charge the defendant may be sentenced up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. If there is any injury to an unborn child, then the charge is a felony and carries the same penalty as this section.

*Definitions of the levels harm

Bodily harm is physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.

Substantial bodily harm is bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or which causes a fracture of any bodily member.

Great bodily harm is bodily injury which creates a high probability of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or other serious bodily harm.

Criminal Vehicular Homicide

Finally, the most serious of all criminal vehicular charges is Criminal Vehicular Homicide. One can be charged with this crime if while operating a motor vehicle the driver causes a death of a person or an unborn child, that is not considered a murder or manslaughter, as a result of one or more the above listed elements in the CVO/CVH elements.

**Affirmative Defense

It is an affirmative defense if the driver was taking a controlled substance with a valid prescription, and is using the substance as directed by his/her physician. This means that your lawyer may challenge the charge because you had a prescription and were taking it as directed. But it is the defendant’s burden to prove that he/she did have a prescription and followed the directions of the doctor.

Driver’s License Revocation for Criminal Vehicular Crimes

If you are convicted of one these criminal vehicular crimes, your driver’s license can be revoked for a substantial period of time ranging from two years to ten years depending on the level of the conviction and if you have priors. The revocation periods are as follows:

(1) not less than ten years if the violation resulted in great bodily harm or death, and the driver has two or more prior impaired driving incidents within the past ten years or three or more prior impaired driving incidents in a lifetime, and the state has revoked his/her driver’s license because they have good cause to believe that the operation of a motor vehicle on the highways by the person would be inimical to public safety or welfare.

(2) not less than eight years if the violation resulted in great bodily harm or death to another and the driver has a prior impaired driving incident within the past ten years;

(3) not less than six years if the violation resulted in great bodily harm or death with no priors;

(4) not less than six years if the violation resulted in bodily harm or substantial bodily harm to another and the driver has two or more prior impaired driving incidents within the past ten years or three or more prior impaired driving incidents in a lifetime, and the state has revoked his/her driver’s license because they have good cause to believe that the operation of a motor vehicle on the highways by the person would be inimical to public safety or welfare.

(5) not less than four years if the violation resulted in bodily harm or substantial bodily harm to another and the person has a qualified prior impaired driving incident within the past ten years; or

(6) not less than two years if the violation resulted in bodily harm or substantial bodily harm.

Hire a Criminal Lawyer

If you are charged with criminal vehicular operations or criminal vehicular homicide, these are very serious consequences and it is important that you have a criminal lawyer to help navigate the legal system and develop an effective strategy for defending your case.
Bruno Law has over 80 years of combined criminal defense experience, and has had numerous successful outcomes when representing clients charged with criminal vehicular crimes. Request an initial consultation and we will be happy to contact you to discuss your case.

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