When you report on Los Angeles DUI cases day-in, day-out, as we do on this blog, it’s easy to become a little numb to the news.
Yes, many DUI stories are horrible – for everyone involved. But when viewed en masse, the stories can start to lose their meaning. Sometimes, however, a story emerges that strikes a chord not just because it involves a celebrity (or someone in power) but rather because it exposes our own fragility. It illustrates how a single lapse of reason can have profound consequences for victims, family members and anyone touched by the crash.
To that end, consider the sad story of Nancy Lopez-Ruiz, a 22-year-old dancer for the Miami Heat Basketball Club. On September 10, 2010, police arrested Mario Careaga and charged him with manslaughter DUI, after he hit Lopez-Ruiz’s bike on U.S. 1 and Sunrise Boulevard. The force of the crash threw the dancer off her motorcycle and launched her 130 feet from her vehicle, where she died.
Last week, court began hearing testimony in Careaga’s case. The jury saw photographic evidence that Careaga had been partying at the nearby Galleria Mall and drinking. He told the court “There were three drinks that I got, I finished two, but the third I did not finish — I left it on the counter.” Per an affidavit, police took two blood samples from Careaga after the crash and found that he had BAC levels of 0.24 percent and 0.23 percent respectively.
For those of you at home who are keeping score, that’s just about three times the legal limit for DUI in Florida or California – most places in the country. Law enforcement says that Careaga drifted out of his lane and hit Lopez-Ruiz with his Mercedes. He was released on $10,000 bond.
Per California law, when someone dies in an auto accident – and DUI is suspected – prosecutors can hit you with a very serious charge of vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutors will use police reports and investigatory tools to determine charges. You need to construct your defense immediately after an event in which someone dies, since evidence that could exonerate you – or at least mitigate your punishment – can quickly disappear. Witnesses may forget what they saw, for instance, or critical evidence from the scene may be cleaned up.
In a worst case scenario, you could be hit with a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, pursuant to penal code 191.5 (a).
To build an effective defense to Los Angeles DUI charges – whether they’re vehicular manslaughter charges or a simple misdemeanor offense – call Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor Michael Kraut and his team today at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers for a free consultation.
Have you been stopped for DUI in Los Angeles, contact attorney Michael Kraut at (323) 464-6453 or online. Our team is located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, California 90028.