Francisco Gutierrez, 19, of Los Angeles was fatally injured in a Long Beach car accident, which officials say involved a suspected drunk driver. According to a City News Service report, the DUI crash occurred early morning on June 25, 2012 in the southbound lanes of the 710 Freeway at Sixth Street. An 18-year-old woman was driving an Acura Integra in the number one lane. Gutierrez was a passenger. The vehicle struck the east curb below the Sixth Street overpass and veered across traffic lanes. The passenger side of the Acura struck a freeway sign and palm tree before coming to a stop. Gutierrez died from his injuries. The female driver was booked on suspicion of felony impaired driving and vehicular manslaughter.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family members and friends of Francisco Gutierrez, who are mourning his terrible loss. I offer my deepest condolences to them.
Drunk Driving Collisions
According to California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), nine fatalities and 152 injuries occurred in 2009 as a result of DUI crashes in Long Beach. In Los Angeles County as a whole, 204 people died and 4,672 were injured due to crashes caused by impaired drivers, during the same year.
DUI Laws in California
Based on this news account, it appears that the teen driver of the Acura was under the influence at the time of the collision. According to California Vehicle Code Section 23136: “It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test, to drive a vehicle.”
A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges. California Penal Code Section 191.5 (a) states: “Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.”
In such cases, at-fault drivers, in addition facing criminal charges, can also be held civilly liable. The family of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, and loss of love and companionship. Victims’ families would be well advised to contact an experienced Long Beach personal injury lawyer who has a successful track record of financially pursuing drunk and negligent drivers. For more information about the dangers of driving under the influence, please visit the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) web site at www.madd.org.