Because most cars weigh about 4,000 pounds and can move at high rates of speed, vehicles pose some danger to drivers, passengers, pedestrians and others. If a person drives a motor vehicle recklessly and causes someone’s death, he or she may face charges for vehicular homicide.

In most places, vehicular homicide is the reckless or negligent killing of a person though the use of a motor vehicle. Florida’s vehicular homicide law is even more restrictive, as it includes, “the killing of an unborn child by any injury to the mother….”

The fetus must be viable

If someone dies in motor vehicle crash, prosecutors may bring vehicular homicide charges against the driver, provided the driver operated a vehicle in a manner that was likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

For prosecutors to file charges for the death of an unborn child, though, the fetus must have been viable at the time of the crash. A viable fetus is simply one that would have been likely to survive outside the mother’s womb with the assistance of universally accepted medical procedures.

Intent is not necessary

Intent is often an element of murder charges. That is not the case with vehicular homicide, though. Even if a person does not intend to kill or seriously injure a fetus, he or she may face vehicular homicide charges after an unborn child’s death.

That is, rather than having to show specific intent, prosecutors only must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual killed a viable unborn fetus by recklessly operating a motor vehicle.