Articles Posted in DUI

People v. Meno (Cal. Ct. App., June 20, 2024, No. D081878) 2024 WL 3063112, at *1

Summary: Meno was convicted of two counts each of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with ordinary negligence (counts 1 and 2; Pen. Code § 191.5, subd. (b)), one count of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) causing bodily injury (counts 3; Veh. Code § 23153, subd. (a)), and one count of driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more causing injury (counts 4; Veh. Code § 23153, subd. (b)). The jury also found true that Meno inflicted great bodily injury upon two separate victims as to each of counts 3 and 4. At sentencing, the trial court found that the convictions on counts 3 and 4 were necessarily included offenses of counts 1 and 2. However, due to the associated enhancements, the potential sentence for counts 3 and 4 was greater than that for counts 1 and 2.

The People acknowledged that DUI causing injury was a “lesser” included offense to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with either gross or ordinary negligence, and that the convictions for both could not stand simultaneously. The People asked the trial court to vacate counts 1 and 2 and sentence Meno under counts 3 and 4, despite counts 3 and 4 being the necessarily included offenses, because counts 3 and 4 carried a longer potential sentence. Meno asserted that the trial court did not have such discretion and had to vacate the convictions in counts 3 and 4, as well as the attached great bodily injury enhancements.

People v. Barooshian (Cal. Ct. App., Apr. 16, 2024, No. D081050) 2024 WL 1629664, at *1

Summary: Barooshian was  convicted him of murder (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a)) under a Watson murder theory. In People v. Watson (1981) 30 Cal.3d 290, (Watson), the California Supreme Court concluded that a person who kills another while driving under the influence of alcohol may be charged with second degree murder if the circumstances support a finding of implied malice. This is “informally known as a Watson murder.”

At Barooshian’s first trial, the jury did not reach a verdict on a murder charge but convicted Barooshian of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Pen. Code,2 § 191.5, subd. (a); Veh. Code, §§ 23140, 23152, 23153).

Persiani v. Superior Court, 2024 WL 833043 (Cal.App. 4 Dist.), 1

Summary: A trial court has authority under Penal Code section 1370.01, subdivision (b)(1)(A) to order treatment through mental health diversion for a mentally incompetent misdemeanor defendant charged with driving under the influence.

Persiani was charged in four misdemeanor cases with driving under the influence (Veh. Code § 23152, subd. (a)). While the charges were pending Persiani was found incompetent to stand trial.

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Francisco Andres ALVAREZ, Defendant and Appellant.

2023 WL 9014911 (Cal.App. 4 Dist.), 1

 Summary: In Mitchell v. Wisconsin (2019) 588 U.S. –––– [139 S.Ct. 2525] (Mitchell),  the United States Supreme Court held when a “driver is unconscious and therefore cannot be given a breath test … the exigent-circumstances rule almost always permits a blood test without a warrant.” (Id. at p. 2531 (plur. opn. of Alito, J.).)

People v. Suazo (Cal. Ct. Appl., Sept. 19, 2023, No. F082140) 2023 WL 6118736, at *1

Summary: Suazo while having an elevated blood-alcohol level, drove his 2008 Ford Focus at a high rate of speed off the highway, through a fence, and into agricultural equipment parked in an adjacent yard. His passenger was ejected from the vehicle and killed. Suazo was convicted of second degree murder; gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; driving under the influence and causing bodily injury; driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more and causing bodily injury; leaving the scene of an accident; and driving on a suspended license.  The jury found defendant fled the scene of the crime. (Veh. Code, § 20001, subd. (c)).

On appeal, Suazo contends the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of second degree murder in light of his testimony that he drank alcohol without intending to drive afterward, then drove while unconscious. He also contends the trial court erred in failing to give, or his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request, instructions on unconsciousness and voluntary intoxication with regard to count and the fleeing-the-scene allegation.

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. VONDETRICK CARR, Defendant and Appellant. (Cal. Ct. App., Apr. 7, 2023, No. E079368) 2023 WL 2820859, at *1

Summary: Carr drove drunk with four children in his car, hitting a pickup truck. One of the children was killed and Carr was convicted of second degree murder. Car was sentenced to a 51 years, 4 months to life in prison.

In 2021, Carr filed a petition to vacate the murder conviction under Penal Code section 1172.6. The trial court denied the petition because Carr was not convicted either on a natural and probable consequences theory or under the felony murder rule.

THE PEOPLE, Petitioner, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Respondent; JESSICA ORTIZ, Real Party in Interest. (Cal. Ct. App., July 28, 2022, No. E077594) 2022 WL 2981170, at *1–2

Summary:Penal Code section 1001.95 authorizes superior court judges to offer pretrial diversion, over the prosecution’s objection, to persons being prosecuted for “a misdemeanor.” (Pen. Code § 1001.95, subd. (a).) The statute prohibits diversion for specified misdemeanors like registrable sex offenses, domestic violence, and stalking.  Misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence (DUI) (Veh. Code, §§ 23152, 23153) are not excluded from diversion in Penal Code section 1001.95.  But an older statute, Vehicle Code section 23640 bars any form of pretrial diversion for felony and misdemeanor DUI charges.

The superior court granted diversion to  Ortiz, on misdemeanor DUI charges (Veh. Code, § 23152) pursuant to Penal Code section 1001.95. The  appellate division of the superior court upheld the diversion order for Ortiz and two other defendants who had also been granted diversion on misdemeanor DUI charges.

People v. Murphy (Cal. Ct. App., May 25, 2022, No. B306773) 2022 WL 1673827, at *1

Summary: Murphy appealed his three convictions for second degree murder. (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a).). The court sentenced him to three concurrent terms of 15 years to life in prison, Murphy argued that the evidence supporting his convictions is insufficient because the prosecution failed to prove he acted with implied malice. Murphy, while under the influence of marijuana, drove his car at nearly 90 miles per hour through a red light and collided with another vehicle, killing its occupants.

The Court of Appeal concluded that sufficient evidence supported the jury’s verdict. Even though there is no standardized medical test equivalent to the blood alcohol concentration test that accurately determines a person’s level of impairment from marijuana, there was substantial evidence that Murphy was impaired from using marijuana and that acted with implied malice both when he smoked marijuana with the intent to drive, and when he drove in a manner that demonstrated a conscious disregard for human life.

ALICIA URBIETA ISLAS, Petitioner, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Respondent; THE PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest. (Cal. Ct. App., May 20, 2022, No. H049445) 2022 WL 1597051, at *1–3

Summary: Islas was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). (Veh. Code, § 23152, subds. (a) and (b).) She moved for pretrial diversion under Penal Code section 1001.95, which gives judges discretion to offer diversion to misdemeanor defendants. The trial court denied diversion based on Vehicle Code section 23640, under which DUI defendants are categorically ineligible for diversion. Two appellate courts have published decisions finding misdemeanor DUI defendants similarly situated to petitioner categorically ineligible for Penal Code section 1001.95 diversion. (Grassi v. Superior Court (2021) 73 Cal.App.5th 283 (Grassi); Tan v. Superior Court (2022) 76 Cal.App.5th 130 (Tan).) We agree with the reasoning in those authorities and will therefore deny the petition for writ of mandate.

Issue: Whether misdemeanor DUI defendants are categorically ineligible from Penal Code section 1001.95 diversion by operation of Vehicle Code section 23640.

Contact Information