WHAT ARE THE LIKELY CHARGES IF SOMEONE IS ACTUALLY KILLED IN THE ACCIDENT?
In case of death, there is vehicular manslaughter as well as the drunken driving causing injury. In severe cases you could be charged with murder. If you have a prior DUI conviction, you can be charged with murder if you have a second DUI or a third DUI that kills somebody. In California, the judge specifically advises defendants convicted of a first time DUI that they could be charged with murder if a second DUI results in a death.
The first time DUI puts you on notice that if you get a second DUI, that results in someone's death, it is possible that you can be charged with murder. If you are charged with a DUI causing injury, there are certain enhancements that can be placed on that as well with additional sentencing ramifications.
Great bodily injury enhancement could tack on three year prison sentence in addition to the charge of the DUI causing injury. If there is a brain injury or the injured party is comatose, you could be charged with an additional enhancement that carries a five year added prison term. So there are some very serious ramifications to DUIs causing injuries. Both misdemeanor and felony DUI's causing injury carry it a one-year loss of your driver's license.
IF SOMEONE IS CONVICTED OF EITHER HARMING OR KILLING SOMEONE AS A RESULT OF DRINKING AND DRIVING, IS IT EVER OKAY FOR THEM TO HAVE CONTACT WITH THE VICTIM OR VICTIM'S FAMILY AHEAD OF THE COURT DATE, MAYBE TO OFFER AN APOLOGY?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It depends if they know the person, then you can do something like that. But there ought to be something that is like a written apology that goes through the lawyers first to make sure that there are not admissions made that should not be in the apology. However, that is not unusual for people to do that. Anything you say to or write to a victim in a case like that should first be screened by your lawyer.
What Happens In Cases Where It Seems So Clear Who And What Was At Fault? What Should Be Done When Someone Thinks Their Situation Is Hopeless?
The focus there is if you are going to build a defense and go to trial and to show the flaws in the testing procedure for alcohol. Also, it is very important to disprove that alcohol impairment was the cause of the accident. Just because there is alcohol in a driver's system doesn't automatically mean it was a factor in the accident. Remember, the district attorney has to prove that the person was impaired and the impairment caused the accident. In these cases, your lawyer will want to consult an accident reconstruction expert as well as a forensic toxicologist.
Many times your lawyer will be looking to negotiate something down from what the sentence that the driver potentially is looking at. Try and negotiate a lesser charge, talk to the victim and the family and see if you can get them tell DA's office that they are not opposed to a reduced sentence. If the victim is willing to remove some of the pressure on the DA's office, that is a big help. A lot of times, you really cannot risk going to trial on a case like that; you have to try and negotiate something.
If you are Facing an Enhanced DUI Charge in California, call The Law Office Of Blackie Burak for a FREE Case Evaluation at (925) 933-4500 and get the information and legal answers you're seeking.