DUI vehicular manslaughter (also known as vehicular homicide) is caused when a drunk driver is negligent in the operation of their vehicle which results in an accident causing death. The victim can be a pedestrian, cyclist, another motorist, or a passenger in the vehicle with the offender. In a recent Fresno DUI vehicular manslaughter case, teenager Austin Lynn Jantz was sentenced to two years in state prison for running over and killing a man while intoxicated. Jantz had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 and a blood sample determined that he had marijuana in his system.
More recently, 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado was struck and killed by Loren LeBeau, Central High School’s boys varsity basketball coach, who has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated. Mr. LeBeau recorded a 0.11 blood-alcohol level which is above the state’s 0.08 limit for intoxicated driving. (Learn more about California DUI Laws)
California Vehicular Manslaughter
In California, a person can be charged with serious offenses including:
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
- Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
- Second-degree murder
These charges are typically based on the degree of recklessness by the driver and whether or not alcohol or drugs played a role in the accident, if they did, the offender may face DUI vehicular manslaughter charges. The prosecution will seek to prove that the driver committed a wrongful act. These acts could be a felony, a misdemeanor, an infraction, or a lawful act that might cause death), and the goal of the prosecution will be proving that this act caused the accident and death of the victim.
DUI Vehicular Manslaughter – Murder Charges
In DUI vehicular manslaughter cases murder charges are typically seen in cases such as a convicted DUI offender who drives recklessly while intoxicated and causes a fatal accident. Perla Vazquez of Fresno was charged with murder in a DUI crash that killed Frank Winslow. Ms. Vazquez is a multiple DUI offender and following the crash she was arrested for DUI, driving with a suspended license, felony hit and run, and murder.
DUI Vehicular Manslaughter Penalties in California
Laws vary greatly on the amount of jail or prison time one may receive when involved in an accident resulting in DUI vehicular manslaughter. Most states have laws in place that specify penalties for drunk drivers who kill another person. These penalties range from jail time, probation, and even a life sentence. In California, a DUI vehicular manslaughter charge could carry a penalty of prison time up to ten years or more depending on the circumstances of the case.
Penal Code Section 191.5 (CA PENAL § 191.5(a),(b)) stipulates that gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years. Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or 2 or 4 years.
For more information, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) have put together a list of penalties for DUI vehicular manslaughter in every state. You can view the PDF here: Penalties for Drunk Driving Vehicular Homicide.
Contact a Fresno DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been involved in a DUI accident it is important that you contact a Fresno DUI defense attorney to address any questions and concerns you may have. DUI vehicular manslaughter is a serious criminal offense that requires the knowledge of an experienced criminal defense attorney. At The Law Office of Gregory W. Fox we treat you with the respect and attention that your case deserves. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please call us at (559) 222-5800, in most instances an appointment can be scheduled for the same day.