DUI Driver Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter in Oakland (CA Penal Code 191.5)

A man from Livermore (20), name withheld to protect the privacy of the accused) is currently being held in custody in conjunction with a DUI related crash that ended in the death of a passenger in his vehicle on New Year’s Day.  It seems that the accident occurred in the early morning hours near the MacArthur/High Street on-ramp.  Local law enforcement agents believe that both drugs and alcohol were to blame for the incident.

A California DUI should not be taken lightly.  Penalties, especially for a 2nd and 3rd offense are strict and harsh.  In fact, every DUI in California falls into the legal category of a ‘priorable offense.’  This means that, with each offense within 10 years of time, the punishment increases significantly.  Ostensibly, this is mean to decrease the number of DUIs by increasing the level of punishment.  Conviction for a 1st offense DUI, for example, will likely end in only up to 6 months in county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.  However, a 3rd offense means up to 1 year in county (and 5 years of probation), revocation of your driver’s license for up to 3 years, and attendance at a state-sanctioned DUI school.

Yet, when a person’s death is the result of an accident involving drugs or alcohol, the consequence become even direr (CA Penal Code 191.5).  Although you may not have intended to end another person’s life, the courts will treat your actions as negligence and may be charged with vehicular manslaughter.  This particular law may sometimes be considered a misdemeanor and sometimes a felony (a ‘wobbler’), depending on what prosecutors believe to be the facts of an individual case.  If convicted, you may face 4 years in state prison, along with the aforementioned fines and other penalties.