Skip to navigation

Fatal Riverside County crash presumably caused by drunk driver

Dale Gribow Jan. 8, 2015

During the winter season, many Americans enjoy family get-togethers and parties to celebrate the holidays. Unfortunately, this time of year can also lead some people to drink and drive. Driving while intoxicated causes numerous fatal accidents in California every year.

One 33-year-old man is facing a felony DUI charge after his involvement in a car accident in Racho Mirage, a resort city near Palm Desert. County court records show that he has no prior DUI charges or convictions.

The accident occurred on Christmas Day when the man allegedly ran a red light and crashed his Chevrolet Suburban into a vehicle traveling south on a nearby road. He then crashed into a traffic signal pole, flipping his vehicle on to its side. The vehicle he hit proceeded to crash into a Volkswagen Beetle heading north on the same road. The 78-year-old woman who was driving the Beetle was transported to the hospital where she died shortly after. The driver and passenger in the other vehicle were not injured.

The man was arrested and booked at a county jail on suspicion of a felony DUI causing injury. He posted a $50,000 bond and will appear in court sometime in February. Felony DUIs carry more serious consequences than a standard DUI, which is typically a misdemeanor.

Each state has different rules for what it takes to raise a DUI charge to a felony. In California, when a DUI case involves bodily harm, prosecutors have the discretion to decide whether to prosecute as a misdemeanor or a felony. In order to go for the felony, prosecutors will also have to show that the person charged with the DUI caused the injury in question. If they cannot prove this, the DUI will likely remain a misdemeanor.

Those accused of a DUI should understand their defense options. They should seek advice in order to protect their rights and interests and develop an appropriate and timely defense strategy.