Last Sunday at 9:55 pm, a man was arrested under suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter when the vehicle he was driving collided with a van at an intersection in South Los Angeles. According to witnesses, the suspect was speeding up to beat a light on 76th street when his vehicle broadsided a van that was entering the intersection. Both vehicles erupted in flames, and a baby, a child and an adult were pronounced dead at the scene. Three others were critically injured in the collision and transported to an area hospital.
The inmate was booked at the LAPD’s 77th Street Station and transferred a few hours later to the Inmate Reception Center downtown. He is currently being held in lieu of $330,000 bail.
Vehicular manslaughter is covered under California Penal Code 191.5(b) PC and can be charged when an individual commits the crime of driving while intoxicated and engages in some additional negligent behavior while doing so and, as a result, another person is killed. In this case, the additional negligent behavior was likely speeding up to beat the traffic signal.
Vehicular manslaughter is a “wobbler” in California, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history – if any. When charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include misdemeanor probation, up to 1 year in county jail or a fine of up to $1,000. If charged as a felony, the defendant faces the possible penalties of formal probation, 16 months to 4 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
If convicted of felony charges, the defendant’s driver’s license will be suspended for 1 year. Misdemeanor charges do not include loss of driving privileges. Should a defendant be caught driving during the period that their license has been suspended, they will face additional charges of driving on a suspended license.