Articles Posted in DUI Manslaughter


Here’s an unfortunate statistic you don’t want to brag about: California has the top four of the top ten U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest DUI fatality rate per capita. Those areas: #1 San Bernardino, #2 Riverside, #3 Fresno, and #4 Sacramento have the highest rate of DUI fatalities in the entire country. San Bernardino’s rate is six times higher than the national rate! It’s neighbor, Riverside, has a rate that is three times higher.

The Department of Transportation estimates that approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities involve a drunk driver and that approximately 30% of all drivers in California who died in a car crash were over the legal limit of .08%. The overwhelming number of these fatalities were individuals between the ages of 21 to 34.


A recent and particularly gruesome DUI incident in Oceanside made news around the world. In the early morning of June 27, a 29-year-old woman who was driving under the influence veered onto the sidewalk and hit a homeless man near her home in Oceanside. She was driving so fast that the impact forced the man through the woman’s windshield, tearing off his clothes as he flew through the windshield, falling crumpled up in the passenger seat. But it gets worse than that. The woman continued driving for about one-half to one mile with the dead man in her front seat. The man’s leg had been severed from his body and went flying through the rear windshield landing on the trunk of the car. After she stopped her car, she got out and walked away. She walked home but she didn’t get away for long; her husband called the cops.

The driver’s blood alcohol level was tested two hours after the crash and registered twice the legal limit. She is facing four felony charges: Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated (Penal Code §191.5(a); Hit and Run (Vehicle Code §20002); Driving with Measurable Blood Alcohol Causing Injury and DUI with Injury (Vehicle Code §§25153(a) & (b)). The judge set her bail at $1.5 million.

Last month 23-year-old Clovis, California resident, Candice Ooley, eight months pregnant and driving with a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit (0.32%), caused an accident that ended in the death of a passenger in the vehicle she hit and serious injuries to other occupants of the vehicle. Ms. Ooley, whose license to drive was already suspended due to her previous DUI arrest only six months before this fatal incident, was said to be driving at high speeds and possibly passed out while behind the wheel causing the wreck.

She has been charged with felony driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of over .15% and vehicular manslaughter with great bodily injury. The district attorney has announced that he intends to add second-degree murder charges but Ms. Ooley’s attorney plans to defend that potential charge on the basis that Ms. Ooley never received a “Watson warning” nor had she been convicted on the previous DUI charges at the time of this incident.

For the prosecutor to prove the murder charge, he would have to establish that Ms. Ooley was aware that if she drove while under the influence of alcohol, she could cause the death of another person, yet she intentionally chose to drive under the influence anyway; the legal term for this is “implied malice.” Now, that might seem like common knowledge but common knowledge is not enough to prove implied malice.

Every day, approximately 30 people are killed by a drunk driver in this country. That translates into somewhere around 11,000 people killed every year by a drunk driver. That’s almost one-third of all traffic-related deaths in this country. If you drink and drive, you could be this country’s next murderer. Let that sink in before you get behind the wheel after one too many.

Sadder still, of over 1,000 children under the age of 14 who are killed in a traffic accident each year, approximately 20% involve a drunk driver and over half of those children were riding in the car with the drunk driver. That’s over 500 children each year who are killed when an irresponsible adult decides it’s okay drive impaired with a child in the car.

According to the CDC, there are hundreds of millions of driving under the influence episodes. When that is considered, only a very tiny percentage of drunk drivers ever cause a traffic-related death. And that is the kind of thinking that convinces someone who shouldn’t be driving to do so anyway: “I’m okay to drive; I only had three glasses of wine.” “I’ve left this bar many times and I can drive home just fine.” “What’s the chance I’ll get caught; I can drive without weaving.” Think about the 11,000 mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, and sisters who leave behind a grieving family every year; are they just a very small statistic?

Penal Code Section 191.5 defines Gross Vehicular Manslaughter as:

(a) The unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence. A conviction of 191.5(a) is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years.

(b)  The unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, but without gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence.  A conviction of 191.5(b) is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or four years.

You may be charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if you: (1) Are driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; (2) Your actions could result in the death of another; and (3) Someone is killed as a result of your negligence.

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Driving Under The Influence And Hit & Run In Orange County

Under California law, anyone who is involved in an accident is required to immediately stop at the scene, provide the other party involved with contact and insurance information, and to assist anyone who may have suffered injures. Failure to do any of these requirements can result in being charged with hit and run. More seriously, being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the hit and run, will result in multiple charges and potentially serious consequences.

DUI at the time of a hit and run usually involves several offenses and may result in one or more of the following charges:

Typically, if you are arrested for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, there are situations that can and will result in a felony DUI. Here are some examples of felony DUI’s:

  1. Fourth or More DUI

A fourth, or more, arrest for DUI, within a ten-year period, will automatically be filed as a felony. A felony is obviously more serious in terms of the consequences but it also has a more serious long-term effect on a person’s life. A conviction for a 4th DUI typically requires jail time. However, depending upon the individual’s circumstances, alternative sentencing may be an option. For someone who has a family and a job, and who may be the sole support of their family, an aggressive DUI defense lawyer is absolutely crucial. Getting creative with the sentencing that will both satisfy the Court and help the individual keep their job, should be the goal of the attorney.

DUI, or driving under the influence, charges are typically charged as misdemeanors. However, some DUI’s can be charged as felonies. The circumstances under which an arrest for DUI may result in a felony filing, may include the following:

1. DUI Manslaughter – This is also referred to as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with gross negligence. The penalty, if convicted depends upon the circumstances but can be up to 1 year in county jail, or 4,6 or 10 years in state prison. However, in a situation where someone has one or more prior convictions for driving under the influence or, certain other vehicular felonies, the sentence can be 15 years to life in state prison. DUI manslaughter can also be charged as murder under certain circumstances. Anytime someone is convicted of a dui, the judge will advise the defendant of the dangers of driving under the influence and, caution them that if they do it again and it results in the death of another person, they may be charged with murder.

2. DUI causing serious injury – Someone who drives while intoxicated and who causes injury to another person, is sometimes referred to as a “wobbler” charge. A “wobbler” means that it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. However, prosecutors typically pursue the charge that carries the most punishment, but the deciding factor typically depends upon how serious the injuries of the other person are. If the situation is such that a complete dismissal is unattainable, and the case is filed as a felony, the obvious focus is on having the felony reduced to a misdemeanor.

A 17 year old boy has been arrested in Anaheim, California, and is being accused of driving while intoxicated and hitting and killing two homeless women. This young man is facing serious charges that will effect the rest of his life. An aggressive Orange County California criminal defense attorney can mitigate the ultimate outcome to lessen the effect it will have on his life going forward.

In this case, this young man’s sentence exposure depends upon whether he pleads guilty to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter or felony vehicular manslaughter. Facts that will be taken into consideration are whether or not he has any prior DUI convictions. Prior convictions of DUI can result in a charge of Second Degree Murder due to the fact that the individual knew the dangers of drunk-driving. Another fact to take into consideration is whether or not he committed an additional wrongful act and reckless driving such as speeding and/or running a red light. All of these issues play a role in determining how the case will be filed. Speeding and/or reckless driving can allow the District Attorney to add sentence enhancements to the charges, which makes penalty exposure more serious.

The juvenile justice system is different from the adult justice system. In Orange County Juvenile Court, the focus is on treatment and rehabilitation for the juvenile while the adult justice system focuses on punishment. However, depending upon the charge, a juvenile can be prosecuted as an adult and be subject to the same penalties as an adult. In a situation where a juvenile is tried as an adult, it usually involves crimes of violence. Juveniles 16 or 17, who commit serious felonies, can be tried as an adult. Also, a juvenile 14 or older being charged with murder can be tried as an adult. However, even if a juvenile is tried as an adult, they are still treated different. There are more options in terms of how and where they are prosecuted and how and where they will serve their sentence.

It is extremely important that an experienced Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney be retained to represent this young man and further that, the attorney be familiar with the Orange County Juvenile Court. Being familiar with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and Probation Department, will help facilitate the best possible outcome for your child. The question parents should ask themselves is what do I do to protect my child. Juveniles make mistakes and most have never known, or been exposed to legal consequences. Preserving your child’s record, so that their college goals and future employment are not affected negatively should be the goal of a good juvenile criminal defense attorney.

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A 58 year old Irvine woman has been charged with Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence in Orange County Superior Court, after an accident she was involved in resulted in the death of a 77 year old woman. According to police reports, the woman was driving with “gross negligence” running a red light, before crashing into the car being driver by the 77 year old woman.
Vehicular Manslaughter defined is basically the crime of causing the death of a human being due to illegal driving of an automobile, including gross negligence, drunk driving, reckless driving, or speeding. Whether a person is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter or felony vehicular manslaughter depends upon the circumstances of the case.

In California, there are four types of vehicular manslaughter. They are listed here, along with the penalties typically imposed:

PC 191.5: Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with gross negligence. The penalty can be up to 1 year in county jail, or 4,6 or 10 years state prison. However, one or more priors of this, or certain other vehicular felonies can result in 15 years to life in state prison.
PC 192(c)(1): Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, without intoxication. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail, or 2,4, or 6 years in state prison.

PC 192(c)(2): Vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, without intoxication. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail.

PC 192(c)(3): Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, without gross negligence. The penalty is up to 1 year in county jail, or 16 months, 2, or 4 years in state prison.

PC 192(c): Vehicular manslaughter is referred to as a “wobbler” meaning that it can be filed either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the circumstances. Vehicular manslaughter acts, not involving drugs or alcohol, that may be punishable are: 1) Driving in an unlawful way; 2) Driving in a lawful but dangerous way, and 3) Knowingly causing an accident for financial gain. Here are some examples of these three acts: If a person kills another person while they speeding; texting or talking on a cell phone; hitting and killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk; and staging an accident that results in an unintentional death.

Because this is such a serious issue, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. With proper, experienced legal representation, it may be possible to get the charges reduced, avoiding jail or prison, or dismissed all together.

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