The punishment fits the crime, but the manner in which punishments for crimes are decided can be rather complicated, especially when the motive behind the crime is not quite as cut and dry as you would like to believe. Generally, in order to have someone convicted of a crime that is as serious as vehicular manslaughter, a lawyer is going to have to convince a jury that this term is what best fits the nature of the crime that was committed.
The jury is then going to decide whether or not the accused party was guilty of the crime, and then the judge that is presiding over the case is going to decide how severe the punishment is going to be. There is a range between which the punishment can lie, and the jury can at most recommend that a certain kind of punishment be meted out, such as the punishment given be to the fullest extent of the law or whether it be lax since, for example, the jury finds the motives of the defendant understandable to some extent, or they feel like the defendant is not entirely culpable. The jury can have any number of reasons for wanting the punishment to be severe or lax, but at the end of the day, it is entirely up to the judge to decide how severe the punishment would be. It is not uncommon for a judge to hand out maximum sentences to people that end up being deemed guilty by the jury.
However, what exactly is a maximum sentence? There is actually a rather easy way to understand this, and it involves ascertaining whether or not the crime is being treated as a felony or a misdemeanor. The state of Virginia often treats vehicular manslaughter as a misdemeanor, especially in cases where the defendant can be proven to be a good person of sound character. It usually takes a truly excellent lawyer to be able to convince a judge that someone that committed vehicular manslaughter should be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony, but it is definitely within the realm of possibility that a thing like this could occur.
If the crime is treated as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty will be one year in prison as well as a fine amounting to no more than one thousand dollars. It is common for judges to give penalties that are lighter than this. That being said, if the crime in question is being treated like an outright felony then the maximum sentence is going to be a great deal more serious. This is because of the fact that felonies are generally considered to be more serious crimes than misdemeanors.
For felony vehicular manslaughter, the maximum penalty is ten years in prison and a fine of no more than two thousand five hundred dollars, and judges often give this penalty if so recommended by jurors.