Following a fatal accident near Ventura last Friday, a local man was arrested on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter. According to officers from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the rollover crash occurred shortly after 2:00 a.m. last week on Victoria Avenue and Olivas Park Drive, close to the Ventura Municipal Golf Couse. Reports state that the man was traveling South on Victoria at high speeds, had difficulty negotiating a turn, and ran off the road, causing the vehicle to roll over into an embankment. Two victims were trapped inside the overturned vehicle when the Ventura County Fire Department arrived, and a 21-year-old Oxnard woman riding in the back seat was pronounced dead at the scene. Emergency personnel transported the front passenger and driver to the Ventura County Medical Center with minor injuries. The driver was later taken into custody and booked into Ventura County Jail on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter.
Under California law, driving under the influence (DUI) charges can become significantly enhanced when aggravating circumstances are involved. Causing an accident, injury, or death – such as in this case – are among the most serious aggravating circumstances and can result in felony DUI allegations. Although investigations are still pending, the driver in this incident may face charges under one of California's two DUI manslaughter statutes – vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Depending on the circumstances involved, these charges may be prosecuted as misdemeanor or felony offenses, and are punishable by terms of imprisonment of 16 months, 2 years, or 4 years. If other victims were injured in the accident, convicted offenders may face additional terms of imprisonment of three to six years for each surviving victim.
As California DUI laws are some of the harshest in the nation, anyone facing a DUI allegation that involves aggravating circumstances – including accidents, injuries, or death – should make working with experienced criminal defense attorneys their first priority. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our Ventura DUI attorneys have the insight, resources, and determination to handle even the most serious allegations and complex cases, and we are prepared to fight aggressively on behalf of those facing felony DUI charges. Learn more about your case and the ways in which our firm can fight for your freedom and future. Contact Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP for the representation you need.