Nate Rau of The Tennessean ran two stories about a Hermitage , Tennessee women charged with vehicular homicide . The catch is she was not driving the car in the deadly crash. Her boyfriend was at the wheel . Metro Nashville Police charged her under the theory of that she was criminally responsible for the vehicular homicide charge while her friend was driving. It is unique legal theory and has been used rarely rarely in the past. . The owner/passenger DUI charge is common in Nashville DUI cases . Typically , someone else drives the car while the owner is a passenger . Driver gets arrested for DUI then so does the owner of the car. In fact , it has statutory authority under T.C.A. 55-10-201.
Criminal responsibility is based upon the simple theory that if I give you some help to commit a crime , I am just as responsible as the person that does he crime. One example is you give me twenty bucks to take you to the bank so you can rob it. Under those facts , I am just as guilty for the bank robbery because I knew what you were going to do. In a vehicular homicide , the knowledge that the driver is going to be involved in a deadly car crash is more remote. In fact , there is no Mens Rea for the crime other than reckless conduct. How can a person anticipate recklessness. here is the jury instruction for criminal responsibility ;
T.P.I. — CRIM. 3.01
CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONDUCT OF ANOTHER
The defendant(s) [is] [are] criminally responsible as a party to the offense(s) of _____________________________________________________
if the offense(s) [was] [were] committed by the defendant’s own conduct, by the conduct of another for which the defendant(s) [is] [are] criminally responsible, or by both. Each party to the offense may be charged with the commission of the offense.1
[The defendant(s) [is] [are] criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if, acting with the culpability required for the offense, the defendant(s) cause(s) or aid(s) an innocent or irresponsible person to engage in conduct prohibited by the definition of the offense.]2
[The defendant(s) [is] [are] criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if, acting with the intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, or to benefit in the proceeds or results of the offense, the defendant(s) solicit(s), direct(s), aid(s), or attempt(s) to aid another person to commit the offense.]3
[The defendant(s) [is] [are] criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if, having a duty imposed by law or voluntarily undertaken to prevent commission of the offense and acting with intent to benefit in the proceeds or results of the offense, or to promote or assist its commission, the defendant(s) fail(s) to make a reasonable effort to prevent commission of the offense.]4 [A defendant who is criminally responsible for an offense may be found guilty not only of that offense, but also for any other offense or offenses committed by another, if you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the other offense or offenses committed were natural and probable consequences of the original offense for which the defendant is found criminally responsible, and that the elements of the other offense or offenses that accompanied the original offense have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt].  [In deciding the criminal responsibility of the defendant, the jury may also take into consideration any evidence offered that the defendant attempted to thwart or withdraw from any of the offenses that followed from the original offense.] 
Before you find the defendant(s) guilty of being criminally responsible for said offense(s) committed by the conduct of another, you must find that all the essential elements of said offense(s) have been proven by the state beyond a reasonable doubt.
The problem with the charges against Erin Brown is that it opens the doors for the expansion of what can be considered a criminal act. Can the bartender be charged for selling a beer . How about the store ? How about the Titans after someone leaves a game after buying a beer. One solution is to put more teeth in the dram shop act which puts civil liability on those that furnish alcohol. I doubt that happens because that industry is protected by a horde of influence peddlers. My guess is the state legislature will pass another law that over-criminalizes ones conduct. Right now Ms.Brown’s case is going to the Grand Jury. Disclaimer. My opinions are my own .