A 29-year-old man has been sentenced to 17 years to life in prison after being convicted of killing a 48-year-old woman in an Orange County DUI incident. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the fatal crash occurred on Moulton Parkway in Laguna Niguel in 2011. Officials said the man ran a red light in his Toyota SUV, lost control, and fatally struck the 48-year-old woman. Police say that the man was under the influence of a variety of drugs at the time of the crash and that he had two previous DUI-related convictions. He was convicted of second-degree murder in February.
A majority of DUI cases in California are misdemeanor offenses. Under California law, however, a DUI can result in felony charges under certain circumstances. Felony charges are typically filed in drunk driving cases when serious injury or death has occurred or if the driver had prior DUI convictions. A fourth DUI, for example, is automatically a felony whether or not someone was hurt in the incident.
The penalties for felony DUI in Los Angeles can be devastating and life changing. The severity of the penalties will depend on the level of alcohol in the defendant at the time of the incident, if the driver has prior DUIs, and the length of time that has passed after those prior convictions. Individuals charged with felony DUIs in California can face:
- habitual traffic offender status for three years;
- four-year revocation of California driving privileges;
- prison sentence of up to four years;
- up to $1,000 in fines.
There are additional charges and penalties for individuals who cause serious injuries or death. It is possible for repeat offenders to face vehicular manslaughter or even second-degree murder charges. Anyone facing DUI charges would be well advised to obtain the counsel and guidance of a skilled Los Angeles drunk driving defense lawyer who will help them fight the charges.