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What if a Death Occurs While Driving Under the Influence in California?

  • By: Ron Hedding
  • Published: January 3, 2020

If someone’s driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription medication or a combination of both or marijuana, any type of narcotic or substance that impacts your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and you kill somebody and it looks like it’s your fault, you’re looking at potentially being charged with murder.

It used to be that you would have had to have a prior DUI.  You would have had to have been warned about how dangerous it is to drink and drive or use drugs and drive.

Murder vs Gross Vehicular Manslaughter

Not anymore though because everybody in society now knows how truly dangerous it is to drive a motor vehicle with alcohol or drugs in your system. What if a Death Occurs While Driving Under the Influence in California?

They know that people can be killed and because of that foreseeability, because of that knowledge and because it’s so prevalent in our society how dangerous it is to drink and drive.

If you get caught drinking and driving and you kill somebody, I can almost guarantee you, especially in Los Angeles county, prosecutors are going to charge murder and that will give them a huge bargaining chip.

Sometimes they use it as a bargaining chip and they say okay, we’ll let your client have a gross vehicular manslaughter for ten years or some other charge.  If you don’t take it and you lose you’ll get fifteen to life.  Good luck.

Defense Lawyer Showing Mitigating Factors

Other times, they say we’re so disgusted by what your client did and by the death that occurred, we’re just going to try to get him fifteen to life and now you’ve got a fight.  You’ve got a fight.  You have to show mitigating factors.

You have to come up with a defense that makes sense under the circumstances of your case, and I can tell you right now, there’s very few attorneys (1) that have the know-how to actually challenge prosecutors in these murder DUI cases; and (2) and most important, even if they have the know-how, you’ve got to be able to execute the plan.

You’ve got to be able to fight them tooth and nail.  Cross-examine their witnesses in these DUI cases.  Hack their evidence.  Show a defense.  If you can’t do that then the client is going to go down in a ball of flames.”

I’m even seeing them prosecute cases where there’s no alcohol or drugs, but the person was driving in a grossly negligent/wanton dangerous manner.

Didn’t care about human life, was going over 100 miles an hour in a residential neighborhood for example, that person killed somebody and they’ll charge them with murder for that as well.

The law is wide open in this area.  They don’t want people taking other people’ s lies in their hands, driving around crazy, running people over, getting in accidents, drinking and driving, using drugs and driving.  They’re going to punish those people and I don’t think people really realize how severe these punishments are that are being doled out in a DUI case.

So, if you’ve got one of these cases or your loved on has one of these cases, you’d better pick up the phone quick.  Call an attorney like me with over twenty-five years of experience who not only has the know-how and how to fight, but also has the background, the skills and the ability to defend their client all the way to the end.

Ron Hedding

About the Author Named Top Los Angeles DUI Defence Attorney by LA Times and named one of the Top 100 DUI Defence attorneys in California by the National Trial Lawyers Association. I'm the attorney other lawyers hire to defend them.