A California man from Sunnyvale with one prior DUI conviction now faces 47 years and six months in prison after another drunk driving incident killed three out of four other people involved in a 2013 accident. The defense argued that the accident constituted manslaughter and not the three counts of second-degree murder the driver was charged with, but this argument did not work in court when the man was sentenced on March 13.
The fatal crash occurred in March 2013 when a 30-year-old driver reportedly drank beers with friends for five hours before attempting to drive. The prosecution reported that the driver rear-ended a vehicle during a hit-and-run accident at a stop sign before colliding with another vehicle. The man traveled at 60 mph in a 30 mph zone when he broadsided the other vehicle.
This case was tried as a "Watson homicide," which means the driver's previous DUI record implied malice in the driver's actions. The man was still on probation for a DUI conviction in 2010 when this accident occurred, and the man pleaded no contest to perjury charges alleging that he falsified documents with the Department of Motor Vehicles after the first DUI incident. A blood test taken after this accident revealed that the man had a blood alcohol content of .18 percent, which is more than double the legal limit.
Drunk driving consequences are not always as severe as the outcome in this case, but there are relatively harsh penalties for even a first time offense as this is intended to deter drunk driving. Depending on the circumstances, an attorney may be able to negotiate for probation or lesser charges when one is accused of DUI.
Source: Mountain View Patch, "Silicon Valley Man - With One Prior DUI - Gets 47 Years For Drunk-Driving Deaths," Susan C. Schena, March 14, 2015