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What Is A Vehicular Negligent Injury?

The landscape of criminal law is a complex realm, often fraught with intricate statutes and nuances. One such facet of the legal spectrum is vehicular negligent injury.

Vehicular Negligent Injury

This charge pertains to inflicting injuries upon a human being as a direct or proximate result of an offender's operation or control of a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other conveyance. It is rooted within the statutes of Louisiana, specifically La. Revised Statutes Sections 14:39.1 and 14:39.2, vehicular negligent injury encompasses varying degrees of severity and is inexorably linked with the influence of alcohol, controlled dangerous substances, and other factors.

Vehicular Negligent Injuring

A vehicular negligent injury is basically a DWI that results in an injury to another person after an accident. The crime is also similar to vehicular homicide except that with vehicular negligent injury, the accident does not result in a death. Many times, vehicular negligent injury can be charged along with vehicular homicide when a driver who is DWI runs into another car or into a group of people, injuring some and killing others.

The cornerstone of vehicular negligent injury lies in establishing culpability through a spectrum of circumstances under La. Rev. Stat. §14:39.1. Vehicular negligent injuring transpires when an offender while operating or having actual physical control over a vehicle or other means of conveyance, inflicts injury upon a person due to certain conditions. These conditions include the operator being under the influence of alcoholic beverages, having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, being under the influence of controlled dangerous substances, or being under the influence of a combination of alcohol and other legally obtainable drugs.

Elements of Vehicular Negligent Injury

Under La. R.S. Section 14:39.1, several pivotal elements must be met to establish vehicular negligent injury as a criminal offense:

  • Offender Impairment: The accused must be under the influence of alcoholic beverages, controlled dangerous substances listed in specified schedules, or other drugs, such as prescription medications.

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC): The offender's BAC should exceed 0.08 percent by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.

  • Non-Controlled Dangerous Substances: The operator can also be under the influence of drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances but are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.

  • Excessive Consumption: If the operator's impairment stems from knowingly consuming quantities of legally obtainable drugs that substantially exceed prescribed dosages, it falls under this category.

  • Negligent Injury: The actions of the impaired driver must result in the negligent injury of at least one other person.

Degrees of Vehicular Negligent Injury

The degrees of vehicular negligent injury are categorized as follows:

  • Vehicular Negligent Injuring: This pertains to causing injury to a person while fulfilling the criteria outlined in Section 14:39.1. A violation of a statute or ordinance serves as presumptive evidence of negligence.

  • First-Degree Vehicular Negligent Injuring: Involves causing serious bodily injury to an individual under the same conditions delineated in Section 14:39.2. The severity of the injury elevates this offense to the first-degree level. Serious bodily injury is injury which involves unconsciousness, extreme physical pain or protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death.

Presumptive Evidence of Negligence and Affirmative Defenses

The statutes also delve into the evidentiary ramifications of the breach of vehicular negligent injury provisions. Both La. R.S. §14: 39.1 and §14:39.2 establish that a statute or ordinance violation serves as presumptive evidence of negligence. In effect, this triggers a presumption of negligence upon establishing such a violation, thus shifting the burden of proof onto the impaired driver to challenge this presumption. This legal framework streamlines the process of proving negligence by employing a legal inference that casts the offender in an unfavorable light without contradictory evidence.

Moreover, these statutes delineate an affirmative defense, specifically pertaining to the combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. Suppose the label on a prescription drug container or the manufacturer's packaging fails to caution against the mixture of the medication with alcohol. The vehicle operator can invoke this defense against charges under the pertinent provisions in that case. This nuanced provision considers the potential absence of information regarding the possible interaction between prescribed medication and alcohol consumption.

Penalties and Consequences

The legal consequences stemming from vehicular negligent injury vary depending upon the gravity of the offense, as delineated within La. Rev. Stat. §14:39.1. Vehicular negligent injury is a misdemeanor. An impaired driver found guilty of vehicular negligent injury could face a monetary penalty reaching up to one thousand dollars, a potential incarceration period of no more than six months, or a combination of both sanctions.

In a contrasting scenario, a conviction for first-degree vehicular negligent injury, as expounded upon in La. Rev. Stat §14:39.2, might result in a fine that does not surpass two thousand dollars, imprisonment either accompanied or unaccompanied by arduous labor, for a duration not exceeding five years, or a potential blend of these punitive measures.


In criminal law, vehicular negligent injury assumes a role of intricate complexity, guided by the legal parameters established in Louisiana's statutes: La. Rev. Stat. §14:39.1 and §14:39.2. These statutes meticulously delineate the various scenarios, conditions, and degrees of seriousness linked to this transgression. While the breach of a law or regulation is considered indicative proof of negligence, the legal framework introduces an affirmative defense under specific circumstances, underscoring the nuanced nature of this legal domain. The penalties and repercussions associated with vehicular negligent injury emphasize the seriousness of these transgressions, highlighting the imperative for legal professionals and individuals alike to maneuver this intricate landscape with meticulousness and precision.

Contact Us Today

Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.


This information has been provided for informational purposes only, is not intended, and should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may affect your legal rights.

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