Some litigants are familiar with the fact that Judge Dale Wells believes that alcohol is not a drug as pontificated in a family law case.
A recent case published in the Desert Sun is a tad baffling. The case addresses the hit and run felony of someone who in the eyes of the Palm Springs Police Department was “blacked out” due to intoxication. This black out led to a hit and run where someone lost a life. The person claimed that they did not realize that they hit someone. http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/crime_courts/2014/12/02/hit-run-plea-deal/19805535/
The guilty plea for killing someone ended in a 4 year probation sentence. Now we all know that the law is sometimes applied in a very strange way in certain departments. Apparently an intoxicated hit and run felon who killed someone has more rights and leeway than family law litigants who have experienced Judge Dale Wells.
The relevant vehicle and penal code specifies the following:
California Vehicle Code 20001 VC – Duty to stop at scene of injury accident; penalties [Felony hit and run]. (“(a) The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall fulfill the requirements of Sections 20003 and 20004. (b)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a person who violates subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. (2) If the accident described in subdivision (a) results in death or permanent, serious injury, a person who violates subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. However, the court, in the interests of justice and for reasons stated in the record, may reduce or eliminate the minimum imprisonment required by this paragraph. (3) In imposing the minimum fine required by this subdivision, the court shall take into consideration the defendant’s ability to pay the fine and, in the interests of justice and for reasons stated in the record, may reduce the amount of that minimum fine to less than the amount otherwise required by this subdivision. (c) A person who flees the scene of the crime after committing a violation of Section 191.5 of, or paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 of the Penal Code, upon conviction of any of those sections, in addition and consecutive to the punishment prescribed, shall be punished by an additional term of imprisonment of five years in the state prison. This additional term shall not be imposed unless the allegation is charged in the accusatory pleading and admitted by the defendant or found to be true by the trier of fact. The court shall not strike a finding that brings a person within the provisions of this subdivision or an allegation made pursuant to this subdivision. (d) As used in this section, “permanent, serious injury” means the loss or permanent impairment of function of a bodily member or organ.”)
Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (“CALCRIM”) 2140 – Failure to Perform Duty Following Accident: Death or Injury – Defendant Driver [Felony hit and run]. (“The driver of a vehicle must perform the duties listed regardless of who was injured and regardless of how or why the accident happened. It does not matter if someone else caused the accident or if the accident was unavoidable.”)
California Vehicle Code 20003 VC – 20003 – Duty upon injury or death [to avoid felony hit and run liability]. (“(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall also give his or her name, current residence address, the names and current residence addresses of any occupant of the driver’s vehicle injured in the accident, the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, and the name and current residence address of the owner to the person struck or the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with, and shall give the information to any traffic or police officer at the scene of the accident. The driver also shall render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting, or making arrangements for transporting, any injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if that transportation is requested by any injured person. (b) Any driver or injured occupant of a driver’s vehicle subject to the provisions of subdivision (a) shall also, upon being requested, exhibit his or her driver’s license, if available, or, in the case of an injured occupant, any other available identification, to the person struck or to the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with, and to any traffic or police officer at the scene of the accident.”)
California Vehicle Code 23152 VC – Driving under influence [could be charged along with felony hit and run]; blood alcohol percentage; presumptions. (“(a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle. (b) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.”)
California Penal Code 191.5 PC – Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated [may be charged along with felony hit and run]. (“(a) 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. . . . (c)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (d), gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of subdivision (a) is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years.”)