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The Elements of DUI Murder
DUI per se is considered as a misdemeanor when an individual operates a vehicle while intoxicated. The felony type of DUI is called DUI murder. This kind of criminal act is succinctly described in the case of People vs. Watson:
"The requisite culpability for the vehicular manslaughter charged here is gross negligence which has been defined as the exercise of so slight a degree of care as to raise a presumption of conscious indifference to the consequences. On the other hand, malice may be implied when a person, knowing that his conduct endangers the life of another, nonetheless acts deliberately with conscious disregard for life. Though these definitions bear a general similarity, they are not identical. Implied malice contemplates a subjective awareness of a higher degree of risk than does gross negligence, and involves an element of wantonness which is absent in gross negligence." 30 Cal 3'd at 296. Citations omitted.
DUI murder is formally called second-degree murder and its elements are as follows:
1. Blood alcohol level above the .08% legal limit;
2. A pre-drinking intent to drive;
3. Knowledge of the hazard of driving while intoxicated;
4. Highly dangerous driving.
The act becomes a felony criminal act because of the theory of implied malice. Under the California Criminal Code, particularly Sec. 520, the act is an intentionally committed act that the “natural consequences of what are dangerous to human life and that the person knew that the act was dangerous to human life and deliberately acted with conscious disregard for human life.”
All these legal jargon taken together constitutes DUI murder. In many cases, the probable cause for the examination of the individual driving the vehicle must be the behavior of the vehicle, be it erratic on the road or a traffic violation has been committed. Once pulled over, the proper tests would have been c0nducted and the results would show if the other elements would come to fore.
The DUI becomes second-degree murder when the proximate cause to the death or deaths is the operation of the vehicle. Once deaths occur and all the elements are proven beyond reasonable doubt, then the case is not just a DUI misdemeanor but a DUI felony.
This felony is a serious offense and as such, it is important to be properly advised and guided on the steps towards filing facing this kind of legal problem. If you have a DUI murder, then call the DUI Lawyers of the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.