DUI Can Lead to Vehicular Manslaughter and Other Charges
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs could lead to vehicular manslaughter and other charges. Driving under the influence is against the law in California, as well as across the entire United States. People who are arrested and charged for suspected DUI may face serious consequences, including extensive fines, suspension of their driver’s license, mandatory substance abuse treatment or classes, time on probation, or even time behind bars. While a DUI charge is serious enough on its own, people accused of causing accidents and injuries while driving under the influence may face additional, more severe charges and consequences.
Man Faces DUI and Vehicular Manslaughter Charges
On April 20, 2014, 20 year-old Roberto Rodriguez was driving his Nissan Pathfinder in Palmdale, CA at about 3:50 a.m. Due to witness reports, authorities believe Rodriguez was traveling at approximately 80 miles per hour when he missed a turn. Trying to correct his mistake, Rodriguez reportedly lost control of his vehicle and careened into the wall of an apartment building, which crumbled. Tragically, the Pathfinder traveled directly into a bedroom where 16-year-old high school sophomore Giselle Mendoza was sleeping in her bed. Paramedics believe that Mendoza likely died immediately on impact.
Rodriguez was arrested and reports indicate that his blood alcohol content (BAC) was nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08% following the crash. Rodriguez posted a $100,000 bond and faces charges that include DUI and vehicular manslaughter.
California Charges and Penalties
California law allows for several different levels of charges when a suspected drunk driving fatality occurs. Following a DUI accident, an individual may be charged with the following:
- DUI Causing Injury (Vehicle Code 23153)
- Vehicular Manslaughter (Penal Code 192(c))
- Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Penal Code 191.5(b))
- Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (Penal Code 191.5(a))
- Second-Degree Murder (Penal Code 187)
Second-degree murder charges after a DUI accident in California is referred to as a “Watson DUI charge.” These charges generally apply to individuals who have prior DUI convictions on their record and have received a Watson advisement, which means the court told them that “it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and if you kill someone while you are DUI, California prosecutors may charge you with murder.” In such cases, the DUI offender will face the same potential consequences as any other person charged with second-degree murder, which is 15 years to life in prison.
Vehicular manslaughter may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, and the prosecutor will make that decision based on the specific circumstances of each individual case. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated will always be a felony charge. For any of these offenses, you may potentially face up to ten years in state prison depending on your particular case.
As you can see, DUI charges may escalate significantly if an accident occurs that causes harm or death to another person. An experienced California DUI defense attorney knows how to fight these charges to have them reduced or even dismissed so that you can avoid spending time behind bars. If you have been charged with any DUI related offense in Sonoma County, Lake County, or Mendocino County California, contact Beck Law PC for help today.