Houman Fakhimi

Costa Mesa DUI Suspect Facing Manslaughter Charge

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a Costa Mesa man is mourning the loss of his brother in a DUI accident - and he is the one who was driving the vehicle.

Costa Mesa DUI lawyer Houman Fakhimi understands that prosecutors have announced their intention to press forward on manslaughter charges against the surviving brother, who was behind the wheel at the time of the crash.

The charges would be: felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with gross negligence, felony driving under the influence and causing bodily injury and misdemeanor driving without a valid license. He is being held on $100,000 bail. He faces a maximum of 7 years behind bars if convicted.

Police investigators believe that it was shortly after midnight on a Monday morning when the defendant was driving along Fairview Street. Officers say he had been drinking and was also speeding when he attempted to pass a vehicle in front of him. He reportedly veered sharply to the right, hit a curb, skidded into a light pole, slammed into the side of a palm tree, then barreled through a chain link fence before coming to a rest in a small ditch.

His 47-year-old brother had been in the front passenger seat while the driver's nephew, 27, was in the back. The brother was pronounced dead at the scene. The nephew was transported to the hospital for broken bones and other injuries. The driver too was treated for injuries, but was released several hours later to the custody of the Santa Ana police.

California Penal Code 191.5(a) is the accusation that an individual was:

Driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs; Negligently committed an unlawful act or an act that was lawful but dangerous, in addition to the DUI; That you acted with gross negligence; That your negligence caused the death of another person. Examples of gross negligence would be speeding, drag racing, weaving in and out of lanes or crossing double yellow lines to pass other vehicles.

This is a felony charge. Sentencing depends on your prior history and the extent to which others were injured or affected. You could face four, six or 10 years in state prison or 15 years to life if you had been convicted of this same charge before or have two prior DUIs. You could also receive more time if more than one person was severely injured in the crash.

One of the other felony charges in this case is DUI causing injury, which is defined under California Vehicle Code 23153. If you were driving under the influence AND operating your vehicle in a way that was negligent or reckless AND you caused someone else to suffer an injury, you may be charged with this crime. It's similar to the manslaughter charge, except that it is handed down in cases where the other person wasn't killed. In this case, it refers to the nephew. In some cases, this charge could be reduced to a misdemeanor, meaning one would face up to a year in jail. As a felony, it carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in Costa Mesa.