Law enforcement officers were on maximum enforcement for DUI drivers over this past holiday weekend. The numbers are still being reported but it appears DUI arrests were up from last year in California based on the California Highway Patrol's arrest numbers. Statewide 995 people were arrested for DUI between Wednesday and Sunday. This is up by 167 from last year. This begs the question as to whether there were actually more impaired drivers on the road this year or if the additional arrests were the result of increased DUI enforcement. Note that these are the CHP arrest numbers only. Whether or not the overall number of DUI arrests increased from last year cannot be ascertained until the arrests from all law enforcement agencies are tabulated. However, with such a sharp increase in CHP arrests, it is likely that the total numbers will reflect a statewide increase.
Tragically, there were 44 fatal car accidents over this past weekend. The exact number that involved DUI drivers is unknown. Media reports confirm several horrific DUI accidents which resulted in deaths. In San Pablo, a northern California town, an alleged DUI driver caused a fiery crash which killed four people and hospitalized 6 others. According to the CHP, the blue Mercedes that the suspected DUI driver was operating collided with a white Nissan sedan while going eastbound on the freeway. The Nissan lost control and went over the center divide and into the westbound lanes, where it overturned. All four passengers in the Nissan died at the scene. The Nissan's driver went by ambulance to a hospital, along with the driver of a Honda and two people each from a Mazda SUV and a Lincoln SUV. CHP reported that those three cars were going west on the freeway and all crashed as the Nissan came over the center divide.
Los Angeles Police reported a fatal traffic collision in North Hills Sunday night. A 22-year-old man was driving a 1997 Chevy pick-up truck northbound on Woodley Avenue. He struck six parked vehicles, including a pedestrian carrying a minor child in her arms. The 34-year-old woman was taking her child out of a car seat in the back of her parked vehicle when she was struck by the truck. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The child was transported to a local hospital in severe, yet stable condition. The driver of the truck was arrested and booked for 2nd degree murder.
The suspects in both the northern California accident and the Los Angeles DUI accident will have serious felony criminal charges filed against them. It is likely, at a minimum, each will be charged with Penal Code Section 191.5(a) - gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. It is also a possibility that one or both of these suspects could be charged with Penal Code Section 187 - murder. This is likely if they have suffered a DUI conviction in the past. When a person is convicted of DUI they are given the Watson admonition by the court, which reads as follows: "You understand that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, and it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If you continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of your driving, someone is killed, you can be charged with murder." Once a person is given this advisement they are held to a higher standard than a person who has never been advised. The fact that the Los Angeles DUI driver was arrested and booked for 2nd degree murder suggests that he has been convicted of DUI in the past and will face a murder charge.
These types of DUI accidents will bring heightened enforcement by law enforcement officers, especially during the holiday season. While officers will properly arrest many impaired drivers, unfortunately, in their eagerness to prevent DUI accidents, some officers will arrest drivers who are not DUI. The best advice for anyone, especially over the holiday season, is not to drive after consuming alcohol or any drugs. Avoid putting yourself in this position. If this advice reaches you, a friend, or a family member too late and you have been arrested for suspicion of DUI, CONTACT our office today. Los Angeles DUI lawyer Robert D. Berglund specializes in representing individuals facing DUI charges.