A 20 year old woman from Brentwood collided with another driver on Highway 24 in the early morning of May 3, 2013. The woman was driving east on the westbound side of the highway in a Toyota Avalon when she struck a Geo Metro head-on shortly before 1:30 a.m. The impact caused the Geo Metro to sideswipe another vehicle, and the driver of the Metro sustained fatal injuries. The driver was a 49 year old Pittsburg man and was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman who caused the accident was treated at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek for minor injuries before being arrested for suspected DUI.
In the state of California, if a person drives under the influence and their actions cause the death of a victim, the driver will face vehicular manslaughter charges. In order to convict a driver of a simple
vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charge, the prosecutor must prove the following:
- The defendant was operating their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- The defendant committed a negligent and unlawful act or an act that was lawful but dangerous, in addition to the DUI
- The defendant's negligent act caused the death of another person
The penalties for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated depend on whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Sentencing for a misdemeanor offense includes incarceration in a county jail for a maximum of 1 year and fines up to $1,000. Conviction for a felony offense is punishable by incarceration in state prison for 16 months to 4 years and up to $10,000 in fines.
The prosecutor can seek increased charges if they contend that the driver committed gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. This crime is prosecuted in the same way as a simple vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charge, except the prosecutor must additionally prove that the defendant acted with gross negligence. Gross negligence means that the defendant gave no concern to the possible outcome of their actions or the safety of others. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is always charged as a felony, and conviction is punishable by incarceration in state prison for 4 to 10 years if it was a first offense.
The Law Office of Nors Davidson is experienced in defending drivers against all types of DUI charges, including allegations of vehicular homicide. We understand the serious implications a DUI conviction could have upon your life, freedom, and future, which is why we fight tirelessly on behalf of every client. If you are charged with drunk driving that caused the death of another person, do not hesitate to contact our proven San Francisco DUI attorney to discuss your defense options.