When Can a DUI Case be Elevated To a Second Degree Murder Charge?

This is something that happens a lot in Los Angeles county and throughout the country quite frankly.  A lot of prosecutors are filing DUI cases where deaths result as murder cases.

In fact, every single DUI person that goes through LA county that has to plead guilty to a DUI and fill out the waiver form and talk to the judge about it, are going to be told on the waiver form and specifically told on the record by the judge, that drinking and driving is very dangerous to human life and if you drink and drive and get caught for a DUI and somebody dies, you could be charged with murder by the prosecutors.  See related: People v. Watson.

Warned of Danger of Drunk Driving

That’s one of the first ways they can get you for a murder charge as it relates to a DUI — is if you have knowledge of it.

In other words, if you have notice that drinking and driving can kill somebody and you go out and decide to do it anyways, then that’s where you put yourself in a position to potentially be charged with murder.

That’s one thing that people don’t really get.  Because a lot of times people are getting so drunk they don’t even know what they’re doing, so they didn’t intentionally kill anybody, so they can’t figure out how they could possibly be charged with murder when they weren’t even cognizant of what was going on.

That’s where the problem comes in, because they’re not going to look at how your mind was operating at the time that you killed somebody in the car when you were drunk.

They’re going to look at what you knew beforehand.  In other words, they’re going to hold you responsible.  They’re going to say, if you knew you were going out drinking and you knew it was dangerous to drink and drive and you did it anyways and you killed somebody, we’re going to hold you accountable for it.

Prior DUI Convictions

You can’t just say, I was too drunk, I don’t’ remember, so I shouldn’t be responsible for it.  As liberal as California is, it certainly is not liberal when it comes to DUI’s.  It’s very conservative and very, very harsh.  In fact, I think one of the harshest states in the nation.  It used to be that you actually had to be told specifically, if you drink and drive and kill somebody, we’re going to charge you with murder.

So, they were getting people for murder cases related to DUI’s in LA county when they had prior DUI’s because they were told on the record.  They were told in DUI classes.  You can’t drink and drive.  You’re going to kill somebody.  So, then they would use that to get that knowledge factor that I’m talking about.

DUI Murder Charges

But now, things have changed.  They don’t care about that anymore.  They’ll certain use it if they have the information to try and convict you for the DUI murder, but even if they don’t that, even you have a completely clean record and you end up getting a DUI and you kill somebody, you know what the prosecutor is going to argue?

Everybody knows that it’s dangerous to drink and drive.  Everybody knows that you could kill somebody if you drink and drive.  So, they don’t care whether you have a prior record.  They don’t care that you were warned before.

The first thing they do now in this cases where they can prove that someone’s blood alcohol level was a .08 or greater, they drove a car and they killed somebody and the accident was their fault, the first thing they do now is they charge you with second degree murder.  Your bail is usually very high — a half a million to a million dollars.

You’re usually looking at fifteen to life in prison, and then they negotiate from there.  Sometimes they’re willing to give you something less than that second degree murder charge and sometimes they’re not.  And that’s the position of strength that the LA county prosecutor’s office has decided to come from when it comes to these DUI’s where people are getting killed.

You Need An Experienced DUI Lawyer

I’ve handled a lot of these cases.  I’ve been doing these cases for over twenty-five years now in LA county.  I’ve handled them in every court in the county, so I know how to deal with them.

I know what it takes to get the not guilty verdict if the evidence is there to try to get that.  I know what it takes to show that you were not the cause of the death and I know what it takes to mitigates these murder charges down to DUI charges so you’re in a better position to avoid that very harsh fifteen to life sentence that comes along with a DUI where somebody died and the prosecutors decide to charge you with second degree murder.

So, pick up the phone now.  Make the call.  We’ll sit down and we’ll start to get the plan together to get you or your loved one out of his nightmare situation.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436

Driving While On DUI Probation – California Vehicle Code Section 23154

This Vehicle Code Section has to do with people who are on DUI probation in Los Angeles County who get pulled over by the police and part of the terms and conditions of their probation is they cannot have any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.

A lot of times the police can look in their computer in their vehicle and see that someone is on probation for a DUI, they pull them over and have them blow into a preliminary alcohol screen device, and if they blow a .01 or greater — meaning they have some alcohol in their system, they can then write them a ticket for this Vehicle Code Section 23154, which basically says that a person may be found in violation of this Section if the time of their driving while their on probation for a violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152 or 23153, which is the felony DUI, and the trier of fact is able to determine that they consumed an alcoholic beverage and were driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .01% or greater as measured by the preliminary alcohol screening device.

Terms of DUI Probation

Part of the terms of this are that the testing shall be instant to a lawful detention and administered at the direction of a police officer having reasonable cause to believe the person is driving a motor vehicle in violation of subdivision (a).

So, basically what that’s saying is, people can’t just pull people over for any reason, just because they want to see if they have any alcohol in their system.

They have to have a lawful reason for pulling them over — some sort of a traffic offense — tinting windows, illegal turn, speeding — and then if they smell alcohol on them and it looks like the person has been drinking, and then they’re able to determine that they’re on probation for a DUI, then the police officer can have them blow into a preliminary alcohol screening device which most of the officers carry in their car, and if it registers anything a .01 or greater, then the person is going to be cited for this Vehicle Code Section 23154.

Driver’s License Suspension

They’ll probably be cited in with a ticket to the local court in that jurisdiction.  The worse thing is, their license will probably be snatched away from them and sent to the DMV and the DMV is going to be notified and they have a chance they’ll lose their driver’s license.

The next element in order to prove this Vehicle Section, the person shall be told that his or her failure to submit to or failure to complete a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test as requested, will result in the suspension or revocation of the person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of one to three years as provided for in California Vehicle Code Section 133353.1.

So, what this is indicating is, if you fail or refuse to take the preliminary alcohol screening test, they can suspend your license for a minimum of a year, and the police officer has to tell you that.

Failing to Take DUI Breath Test

When they say failed to take the test, a lot of people will try to blow in the PBT and they won’t blow hard enough and intentionally try to beat the test by not blowing hard enough into the machine.

This, if it is determined is happening, can put them in a position where they end up with the violation, losing their license for a year or more, and a lot of times the officers will then take them to the hospital or police station where they can draw their blood in order to prove that their either a DUI or they have violated this Vehicle Code Section 23154.

Consult with Experienced DUI lawyer for Help

As you can see from this Code Section, they take DUI’s in Los Angles County very seriously and if a person gets charged with this Code Section, they definitely want to get an attorney who is seasoned, local, knows how to deal with these DUI’s, knows how to deal with the DMV and knows what it takes to get you the best possible result if you’re facing a DUI case or if you’re facing a violation of Vehicle Code Section 23154 which basically is offenses involving alcohol and drugs when you’re on probation for a DUI.

Hedding Law Firm
633 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071