Hayward police claim that the driver of the vehicle that struck another car early Saturday morning was intoxicated when he caused the collision. The accident happened near Eden Shores and Hesperian boulevards when a 28-year-old man (name withheld) crashed into another car with 2 passengers when he allegedly failed to stop at a red light. An 18-year-old teenager was killed as a result of the incident. The unproven perpetrator left his vehicle and attempted to escape on foot; local law enforcement officials were able to detain him within a few minutes and judged him to be under the influence of alcohol or some other drug. He was eventually arrested for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence (DUI), and hit and run.
In California, when someone is involved in a traffic incident with fatalities and can be proven to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating their vehicle, this generally falls under the umbrella of ‘vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated’ (CA Penal Code 191.5). Different from a simple DUI, in this type of case, prosecutors must be able to prove that an individual has not only been driving while under the influence, but has also caused another person’s death due to their own negligence.
According to the law, there are 2 ways in which an individual may be charged under this section: as having acted with ordinary negligence or gross negligence. In other words, cases like these are California ‘wobblers,’ meaning that it is up to prosecutors to determine how they will treat it. If you are charged with having acted with ‘ordinary negligence,’ then you may either be facing a misdemeanor or felony charges of ‘ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.’ This means that you could be looking at anywhere from 1 year in county jail or up to 4 years in state prison, depending on whether the crime is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony. However, if you have been charged with having acted with ‘gross negligence,’ penalties rise substantially. First, acting with ‘gross negligence’ raises the crime to the level of a felony; second, you could spend up to 10 years in state prison.