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A DUI THAT RESULTS IN THE DEATH OF ANOTHER CAN BE CHARGED AS MURDER

 

Here’s a story that could happen to anyone who makes the decision to drive drunk:

In 2012, Ryan pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. It was his first DUI. As part of his guilty plea, he was provided with a Watsonadvisement. The Watsonadvisement was introduced in California following a 1981 case, People v. Watson, in which the California Supreme Court found that an impaired driver can be charged with second degree murderif due to their impaired driver they cause the death of another person. Even though a driver has no intention to kill someone, intentionally driving under the influence, knowingthat this act could result in the death of another is enough to find the driver guilty of second degree murder. Essentially, what must be proved is that the driver engaged in an act (driving under the influence) that the driver knew could cause the death of another. Although it is common knowledge that driving under the influence can result in such dire consequences, typically the prosecutor won’t charge second degree murder if a first-time DUI offendercauses the death of another. But if the offender has been previously convicted of a DUI and has therefore received the Watsonadvisement, the offender is now legally put on notice that impaired driving can result in the death of another person.  TheWatsonadvisement usually states something like “it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol and if you [the driver] continue to drive while under the influence …and as a result of your driving, someone is killed, you could be charged with murder.” That is the advisement Ryan received.

Six years later, Ryan was on a family camping trip. As they sat around the campfire, Ryan joined the others drinking beer. Having no intention of driving, Ryan ended up quite drunk. But as sometimes happens when family and too much alcohol get together, a family dispute arose. Ryan, whose judgment was clouded by his alcohol consumption and who was prone to get angry when under the influence, felt insulted by comments made by his brother-in-law and got into an argument with several family members. In a huff, he got into his truck and drove away. You know the rest of the story.

Ryan was charged and convicted in a jury trial with second degree murder.

While we often consider a DUI a minor offense; it is not, and it never is. An impaired driver may make it all the way home without so much as a DUI stop…. or may end up killing someone. We would have safer roads if every driver contemplated the possible consequences before deciding to drive while under the influence. Unfortunately, it is the impairment itself that often mutes such clear-headed thinking.

I hope everyone reading this considers planning for someone else to drive before the drinking starts. But we are human and sometimes our plans go awry, and we make terrible mistakes. If you have made the mistake of driving under the influence and you were fortunate enough to only get a DUI or, at the other end of the spectrum, tragically caused an injury or death, Orange Count DUI defense attorney William Weinberg promises to fight for your rights and give you the best defense possible.  Not every impaired driver who causes a death ends up convicted on second degree murder. Attorney Weinberg has defended hundreds of clients charged with DUI, including Watson murders. He is passionate about obtaining the best possible outcome for each and every person he defends. He doesn’t judge you; he defends you!

Mr. Weinberg offers a complimentary consultation regarding your DUI matter. He can be reachedat his Irvine office by calling 949-474-8008 or by emailing him at bill@williamweinberg.com.