Driver Held in Fatal DUI Crash

A suspected drunk driver was arrested and held in custody earlier this week following a fatal collision in Highland Park. According to media reports, the suspect was speeding in a residential area when his vehicle veered into on-coming traffic causing a head on collision. The suspect is now in custody for gross vehicular manslaughter.

According to witnesses, the suspect’s vehicle was speeding at 80mph in a residential area of Highland Park near the intersection of Marmion Way and Museum Drive at about 10pm last Saturday. LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman said that the impact killed the driver of the other vehicle “instantly”. The suspect suffered a leg fracture and head trauma, but was “fine” according to Officer Eisenman. The suspect was “found to be under the influence of alcohol”.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is divided into two categories; Penal Code 191.5(a) with gross negligence, and Penal Code 191.5(b) without gross negligence.

In the case of People v. Ochoa (1993) 6 Cal.4 th 1199, the California Supreme Court said that “gross negligence is the exercise of so slight a degree of care as to raise the presumption of conscious indifference to the consequences……The test is objective: whether a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have been aware of the risk involved.”

A person convicted of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence is subject to 4, 6 or 10 years in state prison.

A person convicted of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, without gross negligence is subject to one year in county jail if the case is filed as a misdemeanor, or 16 months, 2 years or 4 years in state prison if the case is filed as a felony.

In determining whether there is gross negligence involved in the commission of the offense, the court will take into account the breath or blood alcohol level, the nature of the driving involved and whether the defendant has previously been convicted of DUI. In the case described above, the fact that the suspect is alleged to have been driving at 80mph in a residential area will be an important factor in establishing gross negligence.

If you are facing a prosecution for vehicular manslaughter or felony DUI, please contact Gold & Witham for experienced and specialized representation.


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