Specialty Focus: DUI Manslaughter and Multiple Offenses

An Experienced and Compassionate Defense

A substantial portion of our practice is focused on defending and assisting individuals charged with multiple and repeat DUI’s as well as DUI manslaughter. Although these types of matters demand the most proficient and aggressive lawyering, we never lose sight to be supportive and compassionate during this difficult time. Often, a DUI involving serious injury or even death is the first time the person has been arrested, and we recognize you never intended to hurt anyone. Rather, sometimes a single momentary lapse of good judgment results in a life-changing event. For that reason, we are committed to striving to provide the highest level of defense while offering thoughtful and non-judgmental understanding. For persons with repeat DUI’s, while this is certainly not the case in every instance, sometimes a subsequent DUI or drug-related arrest is the unfortunate symptom of an underlying addiction issue and it is best addressed with substance abuse counseling. Our goal is to mitigate the case whenever possible, to seek treatment when appropriate and to maintain fairness in the process. We offer supportive defense in the most serious of DUI cases while assisting our client’s in presenting their "human story".

We strive to treat each client's case with compassion, confidence and conviction.

 The Most Serious DUI’s Require an Experienced Attorney

A DUI manslaughter case will involve the most complete investigation by law enforcement, usually by specially trained investigators. This type of DUI is highly complex and emotionally charged at every level. It will involve accident reconstruction, forensic testing and complex scientific theories. Oftentimes there are medical issues, as well, regarding the nature and cause of injury. 

DUI Manslaughter While Intoxicated & DUI Murder

Depending on the specifics of the accident and the driver's criminal history, three closely related charges are possible. Under Penal Code 191.5(a) Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated occurs when a driver commits both a DUI and a "grossly negligent" act, and as a result another person is killed.

Penal Code 191.5(b), vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, is sometimes called "vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with ordinary negligence." If the defendant is believed to have acted with "gross" negligence, then the prosecutor will likely charge him with the more serious offense of  Penal Code 191.5 (a), gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated instead.

California has a DUI murder charge, also known as "Watson murder," which is charged when a defendant has at least one previous DUI conviction, and who has been warned of the risks of driving under the influence, commits another DUI, and causes an accident that kills another person. However, if these conditions are not met, the driver who caused the fatality would most likely be charged with either Penal Code 191.5 (a), gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or Penal Code 191.5(b,) vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. 

DUI manslaughter charges are generally brought when alcohol is determined to be a factor in a fatal accident. If the driver has a prior conviction for DUI or if the facts are uniquely egregious, DUI murder chargers are possible. Because so many issues are involved in these types of cases, it’s always important to say nothing to anyone about the accident until you’ve discussed the situation with an attorney.

Time is Critical

In any accident involving serious bodily injury or death, police accident reconstruction experts will be reviewing the facts and gathering evidence related to the accident scene. An experienced DUI attorney is critical to understand the process and also take the necessary steps to preserve any favorable evidence and to conduct independent defense investigation.

If you or a family member has been involved in an automobile accident resulting in serious injuries or fatality, it is critical to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately for advice and help. Waiting until charges have actually been filed can result in the loss of potential evidence and make any successful defense more difficult.

Mr. Phillips has over 30 years defending the most serious types of DUI matters and is available for private and confidential consultation.