Driving Under the Influence – Causing Death
The loss of human life is a tragically frequent consequence of Driving Under the Influence. Because of that, the California Legislature has put in place extremely harsh punishments for those who get behind the wheel and accidentally kill another human.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated (191.5(a))
Reduced to its simplest terms, “Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated” is the killing of a human being while driving a vehicle, where the driving was done by someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both, and the killing was the result gross negligence.
The punishment for a conviction of such an offense is 4, 6, or 10 years with no priors, but is 15 years to life with a prior DUI conviction
Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
“Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated,” is a lesser charge than Gross Vehicular Manslaughter, and the punishment is substantially lower. It is defined as the killing of a human being while driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act or lawful act committed with simple negligence.
The punishment for a conviction of such an offense is 16 months, 2 years or 4 years, but once again, if it’s subsequent to a prior DUI conviction, the punishment goes up to 15 years to life.
The charge of Murder (Penal Code section 187) generally requires malice. There are two kinds of malice. Express and implied. Express malice is the deliberate intention to unlawfully take away someone’s life. Implied malice exists where “no considerable provocation appears, or when the circumstances attending the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.” The California Supreme Court ruled in People v. Watson, (1981) 30Cal.3d 290 that there is malice in the DUI context where “the conduct in question can be characterized as a wanton disregard for life, and the facts demonstrate a subjective awareness of the risk created.”
“Watson Murders,” named after the Supreme Court Decision, are charged out most commonly when a person has been convicted of a DUI previously, has been advised of the dangers of driving DUI, and having been so informed, drives DUI anyway and kills someone.
A Watson murder is punishable by 25 years to life (Penal Code section 190)
What do I do if I’m charged with one of these crimes?
Because each of these offenses is extremely serious and may result in years or decades of incarceration in state prison, you need to speak with a licensed professional who can advise you of your best defenses and to act in your best interest. The criminal justice system is extremely complicated and very dangerous for the accused, and you need someone to help you navigate that system when your life is literally on the line. Get a consultation today from Manshoory Law Group, APC at (877) 977-7750.