Thirty eight year old Melrose Place actress, Amy Locane, was charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter yesterday after a car accident in New Jersey in which a woman in the other car was killed. According to news reports, Amy Locane admitted she had drunk several glasses of wine before getting behind the wheel of the car, so was legally drunk when the accident occurred.
The Chevy Tahoe that Amy Locane was driving hit a car driven by a Mr. Fred Seeman. Mr. Seeman was transported to a local hospital seriously injured but his wife, Helene Seeman was killed on impact. While some might say Amy Locane is getting exactly what she deserves, it’s also quite likely she won’t end up in jail and, for other people involved in her life, that is a blessing.
Vehicular manslaughter is a crime that involves death resulting from the negligent operation of a vehicle. Surprisingly, in most states, vehicular manslaughter or negligent homicide can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the incident. Also weirdly, in most states, a study by professors at Dartmouth College and Harvard University discovered that, in cases where women are the victims, the sentence given is often longer than if the victim was male, which would not have boded well for Amy Locane.
However, as Locane was only charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter (a misdemeanor not a felony), she’s likely to only get a one year sentence and that could be suspended, meaning she won’t go to jail as long as she doesn’t break the law again. Some may feel that sentence isn’t fair, others like myself think, in these circumstances, it’s the only fair sentence one could give.
Let’s face it, none of us get behind the wheel of a car after drinking and think “Ah well, if I kill someone, that’s life”. While I don’t condone what Amy Locane did for a second and think anyone who drives after drinking is stupid, it’s never as cut and dried as thinking, well she got what she deserved. It’s also highly unlikely she meant to do it.
Amy Locane is married to a wine specialist (ironic, I know), and the mother of two children, aged only three and one a half years old. With the penalty for a felony vehicular manslaughter being as long as 10 years, if Amy Locane had been charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter, those kids would be teenagers before their mother was out of jail and that helps no one.
With the second-degree charged, Locane will be punished (and probably fined). Hopefully she will also have learned her lesson and get some help if she has a drinking problem. Of course, that won’t bring back Helene Seeman, but taking a mother away from her extremely young children, in my mind, only makes the terrible consequences of Amy Locane’s mistake much worse.
Actress Amy Locane charged with vehicular manslaughter – Asbury Park Press
Vehicular Manslaughter – Wikipedia