Major vehicle crimes are also known as serious vehicular crimes. The most serious is second degree murder, which can be charged in many types of circumstances. You also have intentional murders (the types that we all see on movies and TV), but then that also can be applied to a vehicular crime through a reckless mental state.

What the State has to prove on a vehicular homicide case or a 2nd degree murder is that somebody killed someone else and they did it through reckless conduct. More specifically, they must show that the person is shown to have reckless conduct and had extreme indifference to human life.

It’s not enough that somebody is impaired by alcohol, engaging in drunk driving and they kill somebody. Offenders have to be accused and convicted of more than that to get second degree murder.

You might have someone whose impaired by alcohol and is also going at a very high rate of speed on a road, or someone who is impaired by alcohol and maybe driving the wrong way on a road. Those are the types of things that you would see when the State charges second degree murder for a vehicular or homicide case per the reckless standard.

If you are street racing while drunk and somebody dies as a result, the State may charge that person with second degree murder. I was a former prosecutor with Maricopa County attorney’s office and I actually handled cases where people were racing and somebody died. I saw one in Phoenix and one in Scottsdale and those were both charged as second degree murder.

Second degree murder is really the highest vehicular offense that can be charged other than first degree murder and the only time you see a first degree murder is when somebody is committing a criminal act in a vehicle such as fleeing from police officers and then they end up killing somebody because of a car chase.

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