Orange County DUI Murder Conviction for Repeat Offender

Sadly, once again, a life taken and a life wasted because of DUI here in Orange County. A Long Beach man, Ivan Gandarilla, was convicted today of second-degree murder in the death of his passenger after a collision in Los Alamitos.

There is nothing really special about the facts in this case. It’s commonplace nature is worth commenting upon, though. Every year, there are too many deaths related to DUI here in Orange County. Ultimately, each of us is responsible for his own conduct. Had the passenger thought to question Gandarilla’s level of intoxication, he might be alive today.

DUI murder is know as “Watson” murder. It’s based upon the idea that, given the facts, someone who gets into a car drunk, a car weighing thousands of pounds, knowing he’s drunk, acts with malice (intent to kill). You would look to see if he had a prior DUI (Gandarilla had two) such that he knew that getting into a car drunk could likely result in death to someone else but still drove drunk.

Gandarilla was a serious alcoholic. His blood alcohol level in his prior DUI was .33. Think about that: thats over FOUR TIMES the legal limit. Gandarilla couldn’t stop drinking once he started. Whether his prior DUIs were in Los Angeles or Orange County, it didn’t matter. It’s the same crime. Gandarilla was prosecuted in Westminster because the murder took place in Los Alamitos. That meant the case was assigned to the West Justice Center.

Interestingly, had Gandarilla had no prior convictions, the DA might not have charged him with Murder. They might have pursued a manslaughter conviction, which is easier to prove because the mental state is “lower” in a sense than murder. You don’t have to show intent, just a violation of the law. Running a red light, for instance. With alcohol, the scenario changes completely. With the priors, it’s a totally different story. A DUI defense attorney would want to explore, especially in Gandarilla’s case, the damaging effects of alcoholism on his judgement in the first place, his overall psychological status, as well as the liability for the accident and other factors such as lighting, signal calibration, speed of the other vehicle or safety equipment on either vehicle.

If you have any questions about these kinds of cases, please call Irvine DUI attorney William Weinberg at 949.474.8008.