A 19 year old Utah teen who caused a fatal accident while driving under the influence was charged with automobile homicide after the body of younger teen was found in his vehicle.
Underage and under the influence
19 year old Casey James Ziemelius was arrested after police report the teen was driving recklessly and then caused a head on collision while attempting to evade the approaching police. Two people in the vehicle hit by Ziemelius were injured and a 14 year old girl riding with Ziemelius was killed. Ziemelius has been charged with two felonies for aggravated assault and automobile homicide.
Utah Code 76-5-207 states: “Criminal homicide is automobile homicide, third degree felony, if the person operates a motor vehicle in a negligent manner causing the death of another and:
(i) Has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) Is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle; or
(iii) Has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 grams or greater at the time of operation.”
Automobile homicide is not always punishable as a third degree felony. Section 76-5-207 adds: if someone is found to be “operating a motor vehicle in a criminally negligent manner” the charges would then be increased to a second degree felony. Criminal negligence is described by Section 76-2-103 as “with respect to circumstances surrounding [the subject’s] conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise in all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.” Second degree automobile homicide is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.