When a driver hits another car and kills that person, or when the driver runs over a civilian and kills that person, the driver under drugs or alcohol influence may face criminal charges. When a passenger in the driver’s own vehicle perishes as a consequence of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the driver may also be charged. A driver may be punished with a different criminal offence for each victim involved. 

Drunk driving and killing someone in California is a serious offence. A DUI murder charge, which is a standard second-degree murder accusation under California Penal Code 187, may be brought against you if you kill someone while operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated 

Suppose someone passes away in an accident while you are driving drunk. In that case, even if you have never been convicted of DUI before, you could be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. When an accident results in a fatality, this is a recurring charge. The prosecution must still prove that you engaged in conduct other than drunk driving that demonstrated extra negligence, such as texting whilst driving, disobeying a traffic sign, or acting in a dangerous or illegal manner. This misdemeanour carries all the additional penalties for a California DUI in addition to up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated 

A more serious offence while drinking is gross vehicular manslaughter. This allegation, which is based on the idea that you acted so recklessly while also driving and inebriated that any reasonable person would have understood that the consequences may be fatal, may be classified as a felony in certain situations. If found guilty of this offence, you could spend four years in jail or longer and pay a fine of up to $10,000. 

DUI Murder 

In California, second-degree murder does not include DUI murder as a separate offence. There is no “implied malice” when an intoxicated individual gets behind the wheel of an automobile; second-degree murder does not imply that a person had any purpose of killing another person. 

Watson Murder 

You may be prosecuted with “Watson murder” if a person died due to an accident in which you were intoxicated. When a person with a past California DUI conviction kills someone by operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this is known as the Watson murder in the state of California. If convicted of DUI homicide, the maximum sentence is 15 years in state jail and a $10,000 fine. If more people were hurt in the accident, you could be sentenced to up to three additional years in prison, three to six years for the initial victim, and up to one year for each successive victim. 


Driving while intoxicated is a problem that needs to be addressed because it progressively leads to injuries and deaths on the roadways. It is essential that you consult with a skilled DUI attorney as early as you can if you or a close one has been in a tragic DUI crash.

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Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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